“A quarter of cell towers, broadband Internet and television services in Superstorm Sandy’s path were still dark Wednesday.”
One of the things I have noticed on the CNN coverage of the hurricane’s effects is that citizens are gathering around CNN’s vehicles, charging their smart phones and accessing free wifi. This is something citizens with a little technical know-how could do for themselves. Anyone with a south-facing window, roof or just the lawn can put up a solar panel to produce a few watts of power for charging batteries. The wholesale cost of one panel is ~$1/watt and a charger needs only a few watts. Walmart sells gadgets based on the same idea but at a much higher price per watt.
A small but rugged wind generator could supply power in the aftermath of the storm in a brisk wind day or night.
Combine wind and solar power with a batter and inverter for gadgets and almost any home could be self-sufficient in electrical power. Add gadgets to connect to the Internet by satellite and to open a wireless access point and every home within 100m could have free wifi and a bit of power during a prolonged outage. That does nothing about heat, food and shelter, but it’s a start. A stock of tarps, ropes, blankets, water and dehydrated food should keep folks alive indefinitely. The ability to communicate will facilitate recovery.