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Hurricane Florence is fast approaching the east coast of the US and is registering as a dangerous Category storm. Officials declared a state of emergency and told citizens in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia to evacuate on Tuesday.

Florence might be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the east coast in decades, but some residents are choosing to hunker down and ride it out.

SEE: The best emergency apps for hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters

If you're choosing to wait out Hurricane Florence, the following apps could be handy in an emergency situation.

1. Download Hurricane Tracker or Max Hurricane Tracker

Knowing when a hurricane is going to make landfall is crucial in terms of safety and preparedness. Regular weather apps can be helpful, but don't always hone in on specific emergencies like hurricanes. Downloading a hurricane tracking app can be more effective.

The Hurricane Tracker app (iOS, Android) updates real-time with the National Hurricane Center. The app keeps you ahead of the storm with audio, video, and the "model watch" section. Maps have custom graphics to show alert levels and impact potential

The only downside is the app costs $5.

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Max Hurricane Tracker (iOS, Android) is a free app run by the former director of the NHC, Max Mayfield.

The app tracks projected hurricane paths, displays an interactive live storm tracker, local radar, news team storm coverage, severe weather alerts, and updates on watches and warnings.

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2. Hurricane by American Red Cross

The Hurricane app (iOS, Android) from the American Red Cross is specialized to help users through hurricanes. The app gives step-by-step instructions on what to do before, during, and after the storm. It also works without network connectivity.

The app tracks the hurricane, monitors flooding and other dangers, and sends alerts. Through the app you can find open Red Cross shelters near you, learn what to keep in a hurricane emergency kit, make an emergency plan, and more.

The Red Cross has specialized apps for tornados, wildfires, and other emergencies.

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3. FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency developed the FEMA app (iOS, Android) to let users receive real-time alerts from the US National Weather Service. The app monitors severe weather, and similarly to the Hurricane app, helps you prepare every step of the way.

The app offers tips for making emergency kits, plans, knowing where shelters are, connecting with FEMA, uploading photos, and recovery procedures. The app can also track up to five different locations.

The FEMA app is available in English and Spanish.

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4. Safe and Well

Knowing that your loved ones are safe in an emergency is something people want to know more than anything. The Safe and Well web app on the American Red Cross site lets people mark themselves as safe in an emergency.

It works similar to Facebook's safety check feature, but puts some control in the hands of those who are worried. Users can sign up on the website and give subsequent updates during an emergency.

Other users can enter a person's name with a phone number or address to see their status.

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5. Zello

The Zello app (iOS, Android) turns your smartphone into a walkie-talkie or two way radio if you're in range of WiFi. It performs on poor network connections letting you send photos, join channels like a radio, and send messages. You can send a voice message my hitting "record," or a photo by tapping the camera button.

To use Zello, you need an account and how much information you provide is up to you. The interface is basic, letting you tweak your volume, change your status, view contacts, and switch channels through the menu.

You can also search specific topics like Hurricane Florence. If you tap the topic, you'll see who else is talking about it. After you join a channel, you'll be able to hear people talking immediately. The app lets you chat in real-time or leave voice messages. Channels can also be muted.

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6. GasBuddy

The GasBuddy app (iOS, Android) is useful when you're traveling, but it's particularly helpful to have in an emergency. During an evacuation, everyone is on the roads trying to get out of danger's path. It's important to know where to fuel up.

The app is a fuel availability tracker that helps you find gas more easily. Other drivers using the app can update if a station is out of fuel, power, or if there's a price hike. The station appears red on the map in these cases. The company encourages you to report if you see prices climbing in an emergency.

The app can also save you $0.15 per gallon on the first fill-up and $0.05 after that.

GasBuddy's goal is to help you find the lowest-priced gas nearest to you. You can filter by location, brand, and other amenities like car washes, restaurants, and restrooms.

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7. Waze

If you're on the road, the Waze app (Android, iOS) is a must-have. The crowdsourced app tracks accidents, construction, police, traffic, and gas prices in real-time. If there's heavy traffic or a bad wreck, Waze can re-route you.

With Android Auto, Waze can be used on your car's display so you're not handling your smartphone. The app also shows other Waze users around you and your estimated time of arrival.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's Download.com. She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Louisville.com. Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.