The sheer number of people potentially affected by the approaching Hurricane Irene means that the web is experiencing an incredible amount of traffic from those seeking information. Hitwise reports that searches for Hurricane Irene have increased more than 2300% since August 21. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources online where people along the heavily-populated East Coast (and elsewhere) are able to access information about evacuations and planning.
Official New York Sources
The official web site for New York City, NYC.gov, has reportedly been difficult to access at some times today. At one point, the city government turned to other web presences — including the mayor’s own site, a Tumblr blog and a number of Twitter accounts. It appears the city government has now trimmed down NYC.gov to focus its homepage solely on Irene, likely in an effort to speed loading times.
Federal Government Resources
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are providing Irene information not only on their web sites, but also on mobile versions of their sites, for those headed to evacuation centers or in frantic search of D batteries — and they might come in handy if the power goes out (at least as long as cell phones remain charged).
Besides the mobile site, the NHC also provides a variety of alert services, including via Twitter. Meanwhile, NASA is providing images ad video from the international space station, which helps viewers to get a sense of the sheer size of the storm.
Other Local Resources
You may not be in Irene’s path, but with some of the resources available online you can get very close to what’s happening on the ground.
- With RadioReference.com, you can listen directly to first responders (police, ambulances, fire crews, etc.) in the affected areas.
- On Trafficland.com, you can check out live feeds from traffic cameras in the areas.
- Local news radio stations, like stations WTOP in DC, KYW in Philadelphia, WINS in New York and WBZ in Boston will also provide the local, more in-depth perspective that you’re not likely to get from national sources. Other local stations can be found at TuneIn.com.
- Public radio station WNYC in New York City is providing an evacuation zone finder (using Google Maps) where you input your address and it lets you know your residence’s status.
- State offices of emergency management are also available on Twitter: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. Rhode Island, (It looks like Pennsylvania is only on Facebook.)
Google.org has a crisis response center organized around Hurricane Irene, with a interactive map overlaid with information from everyone from the Red Cross to NOAA, including a lot of the Federal and NYC resources mentioned above. Be sure to zoom in on NYC, where it’s easy to see evacuation zones.
Feel free to chime in, in the comments, with other useful hurricane-related resources.