Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NOAA mobilizes resources for Hurricane Katrina recovery

As noted in the comments to a prior post, port survey work is essential to getting relief supplies to the Gulf Coast and NOAA is on the case:
NOAA quickly mobilized a wide-range of its resources immediately following Hurricane Katrina’s landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast. NOAA ships, planes and many experts are helping to assess the damage caused by the powerful storm that is responsible for widespread destruction and loss of life.

NOAA pre-positioned Navigational Response Teams, or NRTs, which are mobile emergency response units equipped and trained to survey ports and nearby shore waterways immediately following the hurricane. These teams can be rapidly transported on a trailer and launched from them for a quick response. This is especially vital to New Orleans, La., and Mobile, Ala., two of the nation's major commercial ports. The NOAA Office of Coast Survey, working in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and local port management will be coordinating the response.

The Navigational Response Teams use multibeam, sidescan sonars and diving operations to check the port, river or sea bottom for submerged obstructions that could cause hazards to shipping.

The NOAA National Geodetic Survey is using a NOAA plane to take aerial surveys of the impacted areas to assess for damage from erosion, such as occurred to the levees and major evacuation routes. These images will assist both in recovery operations, and long-term restoration and rebuilding decisions. The images will be made available to the public on a NOAA Web site on Wednesday.

The NOAA Office of Response and Restoration and Damage Assessment Center is deploying NOAA scientists and other specialists -- in coordination with federal, state and local emergency centers -- to assist in evaluating the damages to the many oil and chemical pipelines and platforms in the region.

Water levels, storm surges and flooding are a concern, and NOAA staff is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to coordinate the flow of appropriate information and data that will guide deployment of resources.

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