New App Helps Tornado Survivors Manage Debt

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GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) – A first of its kind app called saferesponse.org was created to help victims of the 2015 tornado outbreak who rose from the debris only to fall deeply into debt.

“It’s the first time we’ve applied this technology to disaster relief,” said Keith Thode with Advanced Net Labs. “Safe response people can see what rooms are needed right now and make an immediate impact on someone’s life.”

Garland and Rowlett residents whose homes were destroyed are struggling to pay hefty hotel bills.

“These families could be one crisis away from very difficult financial situations,” said United Way of Metropolitan Dallas CEO, Jennifer Sampson.

Now, the app, which allows people to use their phones, iPads or computers to donate in dollars or even hotel points to fund hotel stays, can help.

A family of five still struggling to pay off a 14 day hotel stay that insurance didn’t cover inspired the app’s creators.

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“We have never been in this situation before where we had to borrow,” said Rowlett tornado survivor, LaKeisha Peterson.

Her family was thrown from their home during the storm and ended up in an alley.

“I started to see large items flying through the air. I even saw a bathtub and part of the roof,” said Rowlett tornado survivor, Ricky Peterson.

Some of his furniture was later found on a highway and a child’s backpack was found miles away in Royse City.

The app could serve as a model for future disaster relief everywhere.

“That’s awesome idea that should have been thought of a long time ago,” said Peterson.

There are an estimated 250 families who could have used help from the new online app.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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