Millions download walkie-talkie app ahead of Hurricane Irma

In the hours after Hurricane Irma makes landfall, millions of people could be at risk of losing touch with friends and family around the country.

But in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, an easy solution has emerged in the form of an app that turns smartphones into an old-school walkie-talkie.

After Hurricane Harvey roared ashore last month, Houston was flooded, cell phone networks were crippled and communication was shoddy at best.

Bill Moore, CEO of Zello, says some first responders used his app to communicate in the hours after the disaster.

"It is a walkie-talkie app, that's how most people think of it,” explained Moore. “It's radio style communication for your smart device,” he added.

Moore says the app was originally developed for businesses to replace traditional 2-way radio communication.

His stripped down consumer version is free, has no advertisements and works by using cell phone or data signals.

"It is certainly going to work when cell phone calls don't, or landline alternatives don't. And it often times will work even better than getting text messages through,” said Moore.

Hurricane Irma lurks in the Atlantic and threatens Florida and surrounding areas with serious winds, flooding, and even catastrophic damage.

Contact 13 used the app to reach people in the path of the storm. The app transmits voice clearly and nearly instantaneous.

Moore says the app uses very little data and is available on iPhone, Android, Blackberry and PC.

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