I've been reading about disasters for a few years now.
As a result of friends struggling to let all their families know they were ok in the Tsunami in South East Asia a few years back, we embarked on the Haggle opportunistic networking
project, and more recently, partly fuelled by other problem in society including the current massive movement of refugees from the middle east, we instigated n4d, the networking for development lab, in cambridge, with many partners around the world, and leverage via the Internet Research Task Force's Global Access to the Internet for All (GAIA) activity.
Back at the beginning, I read this fine book about how people behave remarkably altruistically during disasters, that is until the first responders arrive (typically, 72 hours later) -- this made me quite optimistic about our efforts:
A Paradise built in Hell
However, more recently I've read this account of the neo-liberal industrial-military complex way of engaging, which makes for much more depressing prognostication:
(Contrast Haiti with Cuba just for a moment, but closer to home, the description of private security forces ("we're not mercenaries" and "we're only here for the money" occur multiple times in the same irony-free breath), look at the imposition of austerity on Greece, where much European refugee money goes to non-greek security firms to run camps for Syrians and others arriving there, before moving on to Germany (the place that needs them for cheap menial labour but imposes restrictions on what the Greek government can do that stop employment for greek nationals picking up again. Grrrrr....
I'm not sure how to regain my optimism (or even sanity) but am tempted to re-target Mao's slogan Combat (Neo-)Liberalism sometime soon. Oddly enough, today someone pointed me at this excellent blog on insurrectionist civics in an age of mistrust which might help