An app called Zello is getting quite a workout in the areas ravaged and flooded by Hurricane Florence.

In the days leading up to the storm, several news outlets suggested downloading it.  The Wall Street Journal reports that people listened, putting Zello downloads in the top spot at the Apple app store.

Erie News Now downloaded the Zello mobile app to learn more. It's free and allows you to use your cell phone like a walkie-talkie, talking to other people or groups who are also on the app.

Volunteer rescue groups such as the Cajun Navy have been using it to communicate with the members of their group at the push of a button. Trending channels, that you can join on the app, are sort of like a CB (Citizens band) radio where you can listen or talk. People trapped by the storm have been able to reach out for help to neighbors or volunteers close by.

We asked tech expert Brian Amick at Werkbot here in Erie for his thoughts on Zello.  He thinks having an app like this is a good idea for families in case of an emergency. "Zello’s a great app for real short term communication--so quick conversations back and forth just by the press of a button," Amick said.  "I think that it's very important for families to communicate and be on the same page, whether they download Zello or a comparable app, all to stay connected not just in a region, but across the country or globe for that matter," he added.

Amick says the important thing is for families to communicate in advance, download whatever app they choose, and have a plan.  In order for Zello to work, you must have a Wi-Fi connection or cellular service.