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USGS National Wetlands Research Center Scientists Work 24-7 to Assist in the New Orleans Search, Rescue, and Recovery Mission

September 9, 2005

Since the morning of September 3 (Saturday), scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wetlands Research Center (USGS-NWRC) in Lafayette, La., have been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) around the clock in the ongoing search, rescue, and recovery mission in New Orleans.

At the request of FEMA, the NWRC has posted 3 scientists to work 24 hr per day at the FEMA Incident Command Center in New Orleans. The USGS scientists have produced variations of geospatial products including hundreds of maps and raw digital data. In addition to aiding in the search and rescue/recovery of hurricane victims, USGS scientists have also supplied visual displays of the city’s levee system and pumping stations, as well as the daily progress of floodwater recession. When USGS scientists are provided information from responders who are on the ground or doing aerial reconnaissance, they are able to provide up-to-date maps showing where water inundations remain and where they have cleared.

USGS scientists are also providing information that is pertinent to the efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, the CDC needs maps locating hospitals and health centers, as well as information about the status of these facilities (whether they are open or closed). The CDC also needs the locations of water treatment facilities and their accessibility. USGS scientists are providing up-to-date geospatial products that meet the specific and evolving demands of the CDC.

The USGS-NWRC was well positioned to provide this assistance. The center already possessed or had access to crucial spatial data because of longstanding relationships with Federal agencies that are critical to FEMA’s various tasks. Additionally, USGS scientists at the NWRC already had established professional relationships with employees at local branches of these agencies, thus facilitating interagency integration.

Through their work with FEMA, USGS scientists have provided high-quality spatial data and products to thousands of individuals involved in the search, rescue, and recovery missions. These personnel are from the full spectrum of emergency-responder agencies and organizations at Federal, State, and local levels (e.g., fire marshals, police, medics, etc.). The USGS has concentrated every effort to meet the very specific needs of each of these responders and has proven its ability to do so quickly and efficiently.

See Also

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Special Feature
Search and Rescue Mission

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