Introducing Hurricane Sandy to the Internet

For what may be the first time in history, a climate disaster has hit a populated area with enough advance warning that the Internet was able to quickly kick into gear and prepare: everything from Twitter-hashtags to Google Docs peppered the Internet in preparation of the big storm.

Hurricane Sandy, meet the Internet, Internet, meet Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy flooding on Avenue C at East 6th Street, moments before the power substation blew and the neighborhood lost electricity. October 29, 2012.

Preparation over Reaction

We’ve had numerous disasters and political events over the past few years which has seen the Internet play an important part. However, Hurricane Sandy might be the first time the Internet was able to prepare, rather than just react. People from all walks of life and companies and organisations of all stripes banded together to provide resources and information for the millions that would soon be affected by the storm.

Google’s Crisis Map

Prior to Hurricane Sandy’s arrival Google launched it’s Crisis Map of the storm, providing a veritable wealth of information for residents up and down the East Coast.

The service includes weather service alerts, notifications of areas that are being evacuated, power outage information, traffic conditions and the ever present weather radar over the top of it all.

Dropping the PayWall

Many visitors to the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal may have noticed that the pay wall had disappeared for a period of time in response to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. New York Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told Poynter that “the gateway has been removed from the entire site and all apps. The plan is to keep it that way until the weather emergency is over.”

Hurricane Hackers

Well before the storm made landfall Hurricane Hackers were making their presence known. A Twitter hashtag #hurricanehackers popped up with relevant information, and a Google Doc outlining “interesting resources, projects, tools” and more was shared so that people from all over the world could contribute their own help.

The Internet Bands Together

In fact, all across the Internet there were people and resources popping up left right and centre. Tech Crunch outlined a great series of resources, links and stories;

– A great map of the evacuated areas in NYC via the city
– A page specifically for the NYC area, thanks to a Googler in the comments.
– BreakingWeather on Twitter is reporting bits and pieces of information, like NYC being out of bread. The Weather Channel has a “Hurricane Central” account.
– The Red Cross has set up a page to help keep families connected as the storms roll in.
– The Huffington Post has quite a few resources listed, and are adding to the list as the day goes on.
– In an attempt to keep people’s spirits up, BuzzFeed is featuring texts from moms about the Hurricane.
– The Weather Channel is streaming live Hurricane Sandy coverage on YouTube and have asection dedicated to the storm on its iWitness site.
– Many elected officials in potentially affected areas are tweeting about the situation. Philadelphia’s Michael NutterNewark’s Cory BookerNew York City’s Mike Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
– Supermarkets in NYC are getting emptied out, says Huffington Post

Image Source: David Shankbone on Flickr

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