The billions of dollars’ worth of damage Huricane Sandy inflicted on buildings across the Eastern Seaboard cities was unprecedented, making it easy to overlook another one of the storm’s impacts. Popular news sites hosted by New York-based Datagram, Inc were taken offline in the wake of Hurricane Sandy for days. Sites affected include the increasingly popular Huffington Post, Gawker-media owned sites such as Gizmodo and Jezebel, and Buzzfeed.
Many of these sites remained offline for several days; in the mean time, most of the sites redirected to simple placeholder pages with bare-bones blog-style layouts as a substitute for their customers. As the Huffington Post reported shortly after Hurricane Sandy took down its datacenters: “Our data center, our backup data center, and its three data providers all failed overnight due to Sandy, and the Aol and HuffPost tech teams are working closely with them to restore service. In the meantime, we’re redirecting to a simple blogsmith site.”
News of this downtime spread far and wide throughout not only the Twittersphere, but also through conventional news outlets as well. Fortunately, the Internet has demonstrated its ability to recover from catastrophic disruptions; shortly a week after Hurricane Sandy, the formerly bare placeholder sites for Gawker Media’s websites returned to their fully functional websites.
More importantly, Hurricane Sandy impacted the network infrastructure behind the economically critical stock markets on Wall Street, causing both the NYSE and NASDAQ to completely close down for a few days during the duration of the storm. As the NASDAQ is almost completely reliant on the Internet and high volume trading, the effects of this are enormous. Considering that the last time the stock exchange closed due to weather was 1985, Sandy’s shutdown of the exchange represents a monumental event in highlighting the vulnerability of a supposedly failsafe system critical to the global economy. Fortunately, no catastrophic damage occurred, and trading resumed the following business day.
The capability of such sites and infrastructure to bounce back in a short timeframe demonstrates that while the Internet is vulnerable to natural disaster, it is also resilient; we can rest assured that the Internet remains a resource in modern society that can be utilized. If only it was so easy for the residents of the New York area.