NASA assists hurricane victims
September 7, 2005
NASA science instruments and Earth-orbiting satellites are providing detailed insight about the environmental impact caused by Hurricane Katrina. Images and data are helping characterize the extent of flooding; damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure; and potential hazards caused by the storm and its aftermath.
NASA's partner agencies in this endeavor include the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Coordinated assistance by numerous academic institutions and laboratories working under NASA grants will be employed by the Gulf Coast relief and recovery efforts to provide geospatial information useful to first responders and decision makers.
NASA aircraft are providing detailed observations of the disaster area. The aircraft are taking high-resolution observations that can be used to assess the amount of damage to communities and the environment. For example, at the request of the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, NASA's Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Light Detection and Ranging system is surveying the gulf coastline.
NASA Assistance for hurricane victims
NASA has established a public Web site to convey important contact information to NASA employees and contractors impacted by Katerina and for general public information at: http://www.nasa.gov/eoc
NASA has opened a dedicated toll-free number to take information and provide assistance to individuals seeking information about family members that may be sheltering at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., or the Michoud Assembly Facility, near New Orleans.
The toll free number is: 1-877-470-5240.
NASA has a toll-free number 1-888-362-4323 for recorded updates about general conditions at Stennis and Michoud.
NASA is also taking email inquiries about personnel sheltering at Stennis and Michoud. Use "Assistance Katrina" in the subject line, and send email inquiries to: [email protected]
While making its observations of the land, the system has the ability to "see" through vegetation, like trees and shrubs, to view the land underneath. Near the coast it can map the beach surface under water. This will help in the recovery of the shoreline infrastructure; determine hazard areas and environmental loss.
The Terra, Aqua and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellites have already provided Earth observations for land cover and rainfall. Terra's Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer is providing data on the magnitude and extent of damage and flooding to the U.S. Geological Survey Emergency Response Team through its Earth Resources Observation Systems Data Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. JPL is responsible for the American side of the joint U.S.-Japan science team that is validating and calibrating that instrument and its data products.
Another NASA satellite in use is the Earth Observing Mission 1. The Advanced Land Imagery multispectral instrument on this satellite provided land use and land cover observations useful in determining hurricane damage areas and in aiding in recovery, response and mitigation.
NASA satellites are used to improve weather predictions and to study climate and natural hazards. The knowledge gained during these missions aids assessment and recovery operations.
For satellite images and additional information on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/hurricane; and http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/Storm_pages/katrina2005/wind.html .
For information about the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer and QuikScat spacecraft on the Web, visit: http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/index.asp; and http://winds.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/quikscat/index.cfm.
For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/home.
JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Alan Buis (818) 354-0474
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Dolores Beasley/Erica Hupp (202) 358-1753/1237
NASA Headquarters, Washington
A NASA Press Release
Links to news on shelters in other cities and states
Despite escaping Hurricane Katrina with little physical damage, the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans has suffered significant loss of animal life. According to the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), the aquarium has lost most of its fish. A skeleton staff is preparing to move some animals out of the facility and caring for surviving animals in the collection. The sea otters, penguins, leafy and weedy seadragons, birds (macaws and raptors), and the white alligator are fine.
Late last month an atmospheric scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a study in Nature that found hurricanes have grown significantly more powerful and destructive over the past three decades. Kerry Emanuel, the author of the study, warns that since hurricanes depend on warm water to form and build, global climate change might increase the effect of hurricanes still further in coming years.
The loss of coastal marshlands that buffer New Orleans from flooding and storm surges may have worsened the impact of Hurricane Katrina. In the past, the region's wetlands have served as a natural buffer that slows hurricanes down as they come in from the Gulf of Mexico and helps protect New Orleans from storms. But all this has changed.
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