Hurricane Hacks: Slogging through Sandy’s Aftermath—Makeshift
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Hurricane Hacks: Slogging through Sandy’s Aftermath

Natural disasters, like the massive storm that just tore through the northeast US, have a way of bringing out the hacker in everyone.  Faced with a disruptions ranging from slow Internet to flooded homes, people take creative measures to have some sense of normalcy and comfort – just like the people of Thailand did during the flooding last year.

This being New York, there’s always an eye out for business opportunities.  Bodegas sold packaged goods and restaurants that were able to fire up their gas grills were slinging hot breakfast to apartment dwellers with no heat or water.  With phone and electric lines down, cash is king.

These photos were taken by the (unshaven, smelly) Makeshift team around Manhattan—things are slightly disrupted but not nearly as bad as other places.  If you, our intrepid readers, have any other photos of clever post-storm hacks, we’d love to see them.  Email them to me,, and we’ll post them up—with full credit, of course.



The night the storm hit, one halal cart vendor braved the 80+mph gusts of wind to dish up chicken and rice to emergency crews in a pitch-black Union Square.

This liquor store had a generator going, hidden inside an empty wooden cask to keep the noise down.

Hallways and stairwells in apartment buildings tend to be windowless, rendering them completely unlit even during the day.  Leftover glowsticks from Halloween provide some friendly light and a little safety.

Any store that had power attracted hordes of people desperate to charge laptops and phones, with power cables and surge strips strung in spiderwebs over tables and booths.

With no power or cell coverage, telecommuters converged on coffee shops, turning them into impromptu co-working spaces.  Civility, sharing, and accommodation were plentiful.

When an opportunity arises, someone shows up to capitalize on it.  This vendor set up a pushcart on an empty stretch of 5th Avenue to sell flashlights, candles, and batteries to those in need.

As long as there’s a little cell phone service, there’s internet.  A power strip, a wireless router, a cell modem, a power inverter, and a deep-cycle motorcycle battery is enough to provide (slow) ad-hoc internet access to those who need to communicate with loved ones.

We’ll keep updating as photos roll in—keep them coming!


  • michael h.

    I’ve heard people are getting lots of kinds of machines to works as generators, but don’t have any photos of it. Its out there though!


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