The Role of GIS in Response to Hurricane Katrina

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! The news about Hurricane Katrina and the devastation the hurricane left in its wake has pre-empted most other news this week. In the face of such a huge disaster, volunteers with and without GIS expertise are needed. In a press release on GISCafe, we compiled a list of those agencies that are seeking volunteers who can offer GIS professional help, cash donations, donations of other sorts as well as other assistance.

More information and resources from GIS vendors, government and other organizations, websites and weblogs, can be found in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Appointments, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

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Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News
The Role of GIS in Response to Hurricane Katrina

The news is full of stories about the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina this week, of the sweep of absolute destruction of homes and lives as it cut a swath across the Deep South of the U.S from Florida through Mississippi and New Orleans. NOAA was in the forefront of tracking this hurricane activity, and hourly, changed its outlook as the storm changed its demeanor. On Tuesday, NOAA raised its 2005 hurricane outlook, forecasting an additional 11 to 14 tropical storms from now through November, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes. Of those, three to five are expected to become major hurricanes, defined as Category 3 storms or higher, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph (179 kph). More importantly, there is no way of knowing how deep and wide the destruction has gone, as recovery efforts begin and the death toll mounts. So many people are in such desperate need that it hard to know where to begin.

New Orleans Overview
Image collected August 31, 2005
(Credit: DigitalGlobe)
Levee Break at Surekote Road
Image collected August 31, 2005
Break is located on east side of New Orleans between Florida and N. Claiborne Avenues.
(Credit: DigitalGlobe)

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin stated that he believes New Orleans will not be functional for months. It has been estimated that the total cost of damage may reach upwards of $25 billion. And that is just one city many others suffered greatly as well.

Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut down. With the resulting drop in production, gasoline shortages developed in some areas of the country, and prices surged above $3 a gallon. To counteract this rise in prices, the Department of Energy said it would release oil from the nation's strategic reserve to offset the production losses.

In the face of such a huge disaster, volunteers with and without GIS expertise are needed. In a press release on GISCafe, we compiled a list of those agencies that are seeking volunteers who can offer GIS professional help, cash donations, donations of other sorts as well as other assistance.

Listed here are some organizations that will accept and offer help, as well as news coverage.

URISA's GISCorps is seeking volunteer assistance to respond to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and GITA is also in the process of obtaining a number of GPS receivers and arranging for GIS management expertise for the Mississippi EOC in Jackson.

If you can be of any assistance in this enormous disaster response effort, please let GITA know they will be coordinating efforts with GISCorps to try to help authorities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Please respond to INFO@GITA.ORG or to Shoreh Elhami directly as indicated in the following message.

From GISCorps:
This is an urgent request. If you are qualified for these two positions, email Shoreh Elhami ( Email Contact)as soon as you can (also attach your resume).

In response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, GISCorps has been asked to provide 20 volunteers to Mississippi Emergency Operation Center (EOC) in Jackson, Mississippi. They need two groups of ten volunteers:

Group 1: Must have at least 5 years of experience and well versed in using ArcGIS 9.0 in an SDE environment, comfortable in making maps and conducting quick analysis. Experience in disaster management is a plus.

Group 2: Must have at least 5 years of experience and well versed in using ArcGIS 9.0 and GPS software and equipment. **Must bring their own laptop loaded with 9.0 and also must bring a GPS unit compatible with ArcGIS**. This group will be working with search and rescue teams and K9 units mainly collecting data and navigating.

The following provides some general information provided by EOC office:
Both groups must be able to fly out within 24 hours
Must be able to stay for 5-7 days
Will work in 12-hour shifts
They provide lodging (in tents and on cots)
They will provide meals
Must bring boots, sleeping bags, and clothes suitable for field work and be prepared for an extremely hot weather
Must arrange and pay for your own flight, will be reimbursed for the cost of the ticket later. Jackson airport should be open to commercial flights. Memphis is a 4 hour drive away and a secondary option.
Group two must bring own GPS and laptop (no exceptions)
Group two will be working in very harsh conditions and must be prepared to deal with that.
They can apply and become a volunteer by filling out the volunteer form here
Additionally, FEMA suggests relief organizations that request either cash donations or donations and volunteers:
Organizations Requesting Cash Donations
Note: 800 and 888 phone numbers work only in the U.S. and Canada
American Red Cross
English: 800 HELP NOW (435 7669)
Spanish: 800 257 7575
Operation Blessing
800 436 6348
America's Second Harvest
800 344 8070
Organizations Requesting Donations and Volunteers
Adventist Community Services
800 381 7171
Catholic Charities USA
+1 703 549 1390
For further information, visit the Web site for the target='_blank'>National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
Geospatial Satellite Imagery Help

Canada's RADARSAT-1 satellite is being used to provide imagery and information in support of disaster response and recovery teams coping with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In particular, the imagery of the southern US states is being used to map and assess flood-damaged areas.

"RADARSAT-1 has been tasked to acquire imagery over the state of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast for the next few days," said John Hornsby, General Manager of MDA's Geospatial Services International. "This will allow agencies to monitor the progression of the floodwaters and support on-the-ground relief and recovery efforts with the latest up-to-date information," he added.

DigitalGlobe Katrina Gallery

Other GIS Vendors with a Presence

This ESRI page offers a collection of map and data resources for tracking the progress and analyzing the effects of hurricanes in the Caribbean, the United States, and countries along the Gulf of Mexico.

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