The Role of GIS in Response to Hurricane Katrina

MapGuide-based website for Florida Disaster support

Orbit GIS Technologies wants to help relief agencies, disaster response teams, victims, aid workers, government and private organizations and insurance companies with support software. They offer all parties that could have any use of their software tools to download free versions of their software, bundled specifically for this emergency situation. This software is tuned to be FREE OF CHARGE, regardless your organization.

The software bundle contains a full desktop GIS system, tools for mapping and registering changes, redlining and annotation, comparing data and imagery (pre- and post-event) and stereoviewing and softcopy tools for accurate interpretation of aerial imagery.

Organizational Websites and Blogs

USGS Hurricane Katrina Special Feature USGS humanitarian rescue and response is being coordinated by the State Police and the State Fish and Wildlife Agencies that are using USGS flat boats to deliver food and supplies and transport people that have not been able to evacuate many of the flooded areas. There are now concerns about safety and security so the U.S. Coast Guard will oversee the continued evacuation. USGS employees in Lafayette are focused on providing relief to the local community and to a rapidly growing refugee camp on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

As of Friday, Lake Pontchartrain level has stabilized. USGS scientists are coordinating with many Federal agencies to provide geospatial information, maps, satellite images, and scientific assessments to complete the recovery and begin the healing process.

USGS is combining its humanitarian and scientific efforts by providing, at the request of the Louisiana Governor Office of Emergency Preparedness, geographers and data to help in mapping and analyzing the areas affected by the hurricane. Using a variety of satellite and aerial photography obtained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the geographers will provide coordinates and maps to link 911 calls and pinpoint exact areas where people need to be rescued. This linking of photography to ground coordinates was used in the 9-11 disaster in New York City.

The Map Room

FEMA Mapping and Analysis Center - The Mapping and Analysis Center (MAC) provides national level Geographic Information System (GIS) support and coordination to the Agency. Information is available on the site for Hurricane Katrina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, including designated counties maps, and imagery derived assessment damage for specific areas.

NASA has designated a telephone number (256/544-4700) for family members seeking information about people who may have sought shelter from Hurricane Katrina at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans. Support personnel at that number will also assist people trying to locate employees who work at either facility.

NASA established a toll-free number (888/362-4323) for recorded updates about general conditions at Stennis and Michoud and visit NASA Updates online. Hurricane Center

NOAA National Hurricane Center National Weather Service has satellite images, US weather radar, aircraft recon, email advisories, RSS feeds.

CIMSS Tropical Cyclones of Hurricane Katrina storm tracking with forecast, morphing animations, latest reconnaissance report, movies.

The AAG is organizing an online clearinghouse, and establishing a fund to support geography departments and others impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Those in need in the affected regions can send the AAG a list of items such as books, maps publications, imaging services (remote sensing, emergency mapping, expertise, etc.) and they will attempt to link colleagues who may be able to help out. The AAG has also established a special fund that will go towards rebuilding departments in the hardest hit areas. Geographers and others can contribute to the fund online or send a payment to the AAG designated for the "AAG Hurricane Katrina Assistance Fund." Other questions or appeals for assistance can be directed to Doug Richardson or John Wertman at AAG headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Looking for Loved Ones

So many people are missing in the affected areas, that several people have opened up websites or added sections to websites dedicated to the posting of messages for missing loved ones., a Web site better known as a place to buy or sell or rent, or look for love, is now flooded with posts looking for the missing.

Here a positive one: "Just heard from my sister. She is OK!!! She had slight damage to her house (shingles off), lost 30 trees on her property, but horses, dogs, and my sister are OK!!! She had to drive 30 miles to a pay phone."

The Times-Picayune newspaper site has a "Submit your own Stories" section that is now filled with notes from people looking for others. The paper also has created a new category for those people needing rescue.

"Please help," one read. "About 400-500 people are gathered at the church on 5069 Willowbrook Drive, 70129 ZIP and are waiting for help. They have no food and water is rising. Please help." A new web site called is dedicated to finding the missing.

Press Coverage and How to Help

The Times-Picayune website, featuring "Everything New Orleans," also has maps, satellite images, alerts, photos. Also people are encouraged to submit their own stories. According to The New York Times, the Times-Picayune, whose daily circulation is 270,000, put out only an electronic edition on Wednesday with a one-word headline summing up the impact of Hurricane Katrina: "Catastrophic." The local paper is like other news media outlets in New Orleans that mostly abandoned newsprint and television broadcasts on Wednesday and set up shop on the Web.

USA Today Storm Center has historical data on hurricanes as well as up to date information on the progress of Hurricane Katrina
Palm Beach Post - latest AP reports
CNN - Top 10 Worst Hurricanes, how to help, maps, interactive safety tips, etc.
Carriers Struggle to Restore Service After Katrina, eWeek, By Email Contact and Email Contact August 31, 2005
Alabama Power Uses IT To Get To Katrina Disaster Sites, by Martin Garvey, Information Week, September 1, 2005 - The utility is using satellite communications, weather tracking, homegrown applications, and mapping technology to organize and dispatch response teams to restore power to hundreds of thousands of customers.
The Humane Society of the U.S. Effort to rescue animals displaced by the hurricane.

An Equine rescue group helping Louisiana horses, Habitat for Horses/Lone Start Equine Rescue is organizing a massive relief and rescue effort to help the equines of southern Louisiana after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina forced millions to evacuate. FEMA and the USDA are now in control of the areas most devastated and the group will operate under the guidance and control of FEMA and the USDA during this operation. Financial donations are needed to help fund this massive undertaking. Estimates range from several hundred to several thousand horses that are currently lost, injured or in danger. Donations of supplies can be made by calling Rose Westover, Emergency Evacuation Coordinator, Habitat for Horses/Lone Star Equine Rescue, Inc. at 713-467-3444 / 713-594-1177. Email address is Email Contact

Donations can be mailed to Habitat for Horses/Lone Star Equine Rescue, P.O. Box 213, Hitchcock, TX 77563


On October 1, 2005 the U.S. Geological Survey will enter a partnership with the California Department of Conservation to transition over-the-counter retail sales in Menlo Park, California. The USGS will no longer conduct over-the-counter retail sales of maps and publications in Menlo Park. Instead, the Department of Conservations's California Geological Survey (CGS) will assume responsibility for the integrated enhanced delivery of over-the-counter retail sales of maps and publications with no decrease in services to customers. Eight CGS geologists and retail sales staff members will be co-located on the USGS campus at 345 Middlefield Road, with two USGS employees to create a seamless "one-stop-shop" for delivery of natural science information products and services. The balance of five USGS employees currently involved in publication sales will relocate and join the USGS Library employees in Building 15 to form the Science Information & Library Services component of the USGS Natural Science Network.

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