DENVER — Along the lines for information, food and water, one Colorado company set up a table in Houston’s hurricane shelters to provide one important service many might not think of at first.
TekDry spent several days in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey drying out and rescuing victims’ phones so they could contact loved ones and access information.
“I saw pictures of people walking down a flooded street, and the things they chose to bring were their family, the clothes on their backs and their cell phones,” Cookson told BizWest once he returned to Denver. “It puts it into perspective of where they hold the device in priority of everything else they own. A lot of people, their first priority is to contact family and let them know they are OK.”
TekDry was able to help with that, using its technology to dry out flooded phones, some of which had gotten wet five to seven days prior.
The company set up its machines — vacuums that bring the pressure in a chamber down enough to cause the water inside a phone to evaporate — at several convention centers through Houston that were sheltering people. The company also offered free rides through Uber from the shelter to Staples stores that had the TekDry chamber.
“We’re able to dry the device to the smallest molecular level,” Cookson explained. “Once it’s dry, if it’s not too long since it’s gotten wet, it comes back to life. The thing that kills the phone is not the water, it’s the corrosion that happens as the water dries slowly over weeks. Getting it very dry very quickly gets in front of that.”
TekDry’s history with helping in disasters actually goes back to Colorado’s floods in 2013. The company was smaller, with just a few machines, but employees drove to Red Cross shelters across the Front Range to offer their services and help restore damaged devices. Since then, Cookson said that it was a priority for TekDry to give back if another disaster came up and the company was in a position to help.
When Hurricane Harvey came, it only took a day for the company to get things together and get on the road.
Now, the company is already looking ahead to how it can assist in Florida with Hurricane Irma, reaching out to emergency agencies and stores that carry the TekDry machines to set up an operation similar to what they had in Houston.
In the meantime, Cookson urges people who may lose their phone in a disaster to write down important phone numbers and put it in a plastic bag so they can still contact people. And if a phone or device does get wet, Cookson said it’s essential that people don’t try to charge their wet phones.
“If a device is wet, it (charging) kills the phone,” he said. “Electricity and water don’t mix.”
In the meantime, he said TekDry would do what it can to help those affected.
“In regular everyday life, our phones are our connection to everything,” he said. “They’re even more important in these crises.”