Turns out they're just like free-market economics in any other situation. Unfortunately, many, many people don't understand that, and run around calling the people selling ice and generators to Floridians "price-gougers" and "profiteers." Here's Jeff Jacoby's lesson on the storm of market efficiency that hit Florida right after Charley.
Imagine a system that could instantly respond to a calamity like Hurricane Charley by mobilizing suppliers to speed urgently needed resources to the victims. Imagine that such a system could quickly attract the out-of-town manpower needed for cleanup and repairs, while seeing to it that existing supplies were neither recklessly squandered nor hoarded. Imagine that it could prompt thousands of men and women to act in the public interest, yet not force anyone to do anything against his will.
Actually, there's no need to imagine. The system already exists.
Hat tip, Hit & Run.