NASA assists hurricane victims
NASA release
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, along with academic institutions and partner agencies, is working to ensure the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have the best available information to aid in responding to this catastrophic event.

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.

The images above show data from NASA's MODIS instrument, received and processed at the University of South Florida's Institute for Marine Remote Sensing (IMaRS). In the color scheme in the images, red normally indicates dry land, while blue indicates water. The top image shows the same area before Katrina hit, showing red throughout New Orleans, meaning dry land. The second image was captured on August 31, 2005, showing large areas of New Orleans and the adjacent Gulf Coast inundated with water. Credit: NASA/USF/IMaRS

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:

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]
This system, carried on a Cessna 310, surveyed the northern gulf coastline on Thursday. Tomorrow the aircraft is scheduled to fly over the perimeter and surrounding levee around New Orleans to assist in damage assessment of the system.

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.

NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument on the Terra and Aqua satellites provided images of flooding, including pre- and post-disaster comparisons. Data from NASA's QuikScat satellite, developed and managed by JPL, was one source of wind observations used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hurricane Research Division to analyze the wind field of the storm and to track its path.

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:; and .

For information about the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer and QuikScat spacecraft on the Web, visit:; and

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

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

Other resources:
Links to news on shelters in other cities and states

Baton Rouge
Kansas City
Little Rock
New Mexico
San Antonio
St. Louis
  • Personal account of hurricane destruction along Mississippi Gulf Coast: The following is an eyewitness account of hurricane destruction along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Included is information on plans to provide pro bono services from out of state lawyers to the storm victims, many of whom will need assistance in dealing with insurance companies, relief bureaucracies, and possibly personal or small business bankruptcies in the aftermath of the storm.
  • White alligator, sea otters, penguins at New Orleans Aquarium OK, fish are not 6-September-2005
    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.
  • Hurricanes getting stronger due to global warming says study August 29, 2005
    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.
  • Environmental problems worsened Hurricane Katrina's impact August 31, 2005
    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.

    NASA release (September 07, 2005).

    NASA offers assistance to hurricane victims.

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