Sandy volunteers connect with victims using Amazon, Airbnb, Crowdmap

Food is distributed to Coney Island residents affected by Superstorm Sandy on Neptune Avenue in Brooklyn on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. A steady stream of volunteers, food and supplies continues to flow into the Coney Island community as electricity is progressively restored to the battered area.
AP Photo/John Minchillo

Two weeks after Superstorm Sandy pummeled the U.S. East Coast, those who are in the hardest hit areas of New York and New Jersey are still picking up the pieces.

Though New York and New Jersey bore the brunt of the destruction, at its peak, the storm reached 1,000 miles across, killed more than 100 people in 10 states, knocked out power to 8.5 million and canceled nearly 20,000 flights. More than 12 inches of rain fell in Easton, Md., and 34 inches of snow fell in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Damage has been estimated at $50 billion, making Sandy the second most expensive storm in U.S. history, behind Katrina.

Recovery efforts are underway, and volunteers who want to lend a hand can use online tools to connect those in need. Several websites and social networks have been altered to help people who have been severely affected or displaced by Sandy.

Housing and Electricity

Housing and electricity are likely at the top of the list for people who are displaced or still in the dark.

Airbnb partnered with New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to launch a free housing platform. The online vacation rental matchmaking service has a dedicated directory of people who are willing to donate their spaces for free, using Airbnb's platform. To date, over 700 listings have been created for free housing. More information can be found at

Those who can access computers or smartphones, can use Google's crisis map to access information about power outages. Once on the map, select "damage assessments" and "power outage information."


Gas rationing is now in effect in New York City and 12 counties in New Jersey, due to fuel shortages in the area. Motorists who want to fill up will have to rotate turns every other day. People looking to ease pain at the pump can try ridesharing.

The website has seen a spike in usage since it launched a page to help commuters connect in the New York City area. At the time, Manhattan was under a 3 person minimum restriction. Rootless co-founder and chief executive officer Aaron Williams told CBS News via email that 4,000 have visited the NYC ridesharing page since it launched.

Occupy Sandy, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, is also connecting drivers with passengers via its Occupy Sandy Rideshare Facebook page and by texting @osdrivers to 23559. People who choose to participate in rideshare situations should use reasonable precaution.

Connecting Volunteers and Supplies

Occupy Sandy has also repurposed's wedding registry so that people from anywhere in the world can buy supplies that will be distributed to people in the most affected areas.

Items like blankets, cookware and cleaning supplies can be bought online and shipped to Occupy Sandy's distribution center at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn, N.Y.

CBS New York has a full list of locations that are looking for volunteers in the Tri-State Area.


Targeted information can be found through a service like, which is a platform that lets people or organizations create custom maps. A search of the keyword Sandy resulted in custom maps that include everything from places for those who have been displaced to work to more specific locations.

Each Crowdmap has custom information. The map for Staten Island lists shelters, places to charge devices and find rides, among other things.The Hurricane Sandy Communication map lists locations with free public Wi-Fi and electronics charging stations.

Tech Companies Lend a Hand

Tech companies are also offering service to help those in Sandy's path.

Comcast said it would offer free Wi-Fi hot spots to anyone in the storm's path including: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

AT&T and T-Mobile announced that the two telecommunications companies would enable free roaming across its networks. Apple enabled donations to the Red Cross through iTunes.

Verizon Wireless is waiving all charges for domestic voice and text usage between Oct. 29 and Nov. 16 for residents of New York and New Jersey. AT&T will waive voice and text overage charges through the end of November for customers in affected areas in New York, New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut.