LAKE WORTH, Fla. — We're officially in hurricane season and there's one thing your neighbors are doing ahead of a storm that maybe you haven't thought of yet.
Robert Waples and his neighbors have found the best way to prepare for a disaster like a hurricane, is to get to know each other on an app called Nextdoor.
"We can share information such as who has stock that you need such as plywood, that type of thing, who has a generator, who can help. We've actually become closer as a neighborhood because of this platform," said Waples.
The app allows people in one neighborhood to privately communicate with each other or share posts with surrounding neighborhoods. The app requires members to use their real names and verified address which creates trust among users and accountability.
In 2017, after Hurricane Irma knocked down power lines and trees in our area, Waples said Nextdoor is how he found out where the damage was in his Lake Osborne neighborhood.
"We actually posted on Nextdoor who had trees down and we'd run around with our chainsaws and help each other out," added Waples.
Police departments and city governments are also using Nextdoor. Users can look up "local agencies" in the menu options to see what government agencies are posting.
"We're not fighting an algorithm, which on Facebook we are kind of at the mercy of that algorithm," said Mary McGuire, Boca Raton Communications and Digital Media Coordinator.
McGuire said on Nextdoor she can blast out message to a specific neighborhood or several without worrying if Facebook will bury it in a social feed.
"We know that if there's an issue at this intersection, we can send a message out," added McGuire.
Waples said the app has really improved how his neighborhood prepares for and bounces back after a storm.
"It becomes a whole team effort," he added.
City and county governments along with police departments and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office use Nextdoor to put out crime alerts and other important information like road closures. Nextdoor is available nationwide and currently there are more than 237,000 neighborhoods participating globally.