If you’re like me – you probably have friends and family on the East coast who were recently affected by Hurricane Sandy aka: “Frankenstorm”. In fact, on my Facebook page today, my friend Dave in Manhattan posted that he had the pleasure of waiting in line for 3 hours to fill his car with gas.
With unprecedented devastation and loss from such a powerful storm, one can only imagine where to even begin with the clean-up and rebuilding. But before any of that can happen, disaster response crews are using imagery and GIS to assess damages and make strategic clean-up plans.
In the map below social media activity is displayed in combination with geospatial components to convey valuable disaster information to first responders. The larger clusters on the map alert response crews to harder-hit and more populous area and this can provide a way to prioritize response. Add imagery to the mix and crews are not only able to focus on areas where they can have the greatest impact, but also areas where they can identify viable thoroughfares and access routes.
In fact, image collection flights – both completed and still planned – include hundreds of areas up and down the coast (shown below in red). In addition to their use for initial emergency response missions, these images will be essential for before and after damage assessment, helping to identify HAZMAT spill locations, find errant vessels, and identify underwater navigation obstructions. This information holds paramount importance in decision making around the reopening of ports for vessels containing relief supplies, emergency provisions of petroleum products, and general ocean commerce operations – all essential for recovery.
Thanks to the patient and incredibly capable responders, imagery, GIS, and other modern technologies, hopefully the rebuilding efforts already underway prove to be safe and successful. To download imagery, visit the NOAA Remote Sensing Division site. I have already started some before and after assessments I hope to share with you in a future post. Have you found compelling images?
Red Cross Disaster Relief and donation information can be found here.