Address: NOAA's Disaster Response Center, 7344 Zeigler Boulevard, Mobile, Ala., 36608
The DRC is the premier coastal crisis support facility devoted to supporting decision makers in their efforts to prepare for, assess, and respond to coastal ecological and economic distress. The Center serves as a direct link between NOAA and these decision makers, whether it is a public health official, oil spill response coordinator, fire chief, emergency management director, or national security official.
In the horrific aftermath of the 2005 hurricane season, the United States Congress recognized the need for a centralized program in the Gulf of Mexico dedicated to all-hazards preparedness, response and recovery. In 2007, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008, appropriating funds a Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 26, 2007.
Each dollar spent on hazard mitigation saves an average of $4 dollars in response and recovery costs. — National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS)
NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) developed a conceptual plan, including proposed program operations and facility requirements for the new Center, over the past two and half years. The concept envisioned a facility in Mobile County, Alabama, to consolidate, coordinate and deliver NOAA mission capabilities such as scientific support to first responders, real-time atmospheric and maritime observations and spatial data processing, and targeted training before, during, and after emergency events. With the completion of the Center in Oct. 2012, this concept is now a reality.
There are a number of drivers for a Center such as the DRC for the Gulf of Mexico region. These include population and demographic characteristics, impacts of repeated storm losses, calls for improved government response, as well as a number of legislative directives and executive orders.
For example, over the past three decades the total number of deaths per landfall for Atlantic hurricanes has steadily declined, but the total economic loss for the landfall zones, and surrounding areas, have steadily increased. This is due in large part to increased wealth, population, and housing units in vulnerable coastal areas, especially the east coast of Florida and the Gulf Coast.
The prosperity, equity, sustainability, and livability of neighborhoods, cities and towns, and larger regions depend on the ability of the Federal Government to enable locally-driven, integrated, and place-conscious solutions guided by meaningful measures, not disparate or redundant programs which neglect their impact on regional development. — White House Memorandum 09-28
An estimated 20 million people lived along the Gulf Coast in 2008 and a 10% increase in this population is expected by 2015. This region accounts for approximately 1.3 billion pounds of commercial fishery landings per year, which is equivalent to $662 million or 14% of total U.S landings. Six of the Nation’s ten leading ports for tonnage are located along the Gulf Coast, and with the possibility of increased offshore oil drilling, there is a clear incentive for more coordinated planning, preparedness, and response efforts in a region that is currently home to approximately 52% of U.S. crude oil production, 54% of U.S. natural gas production, and 47% of U.S. oil refinery capacity.
From 2004-2008, 26 hurricanes made landfall and impacted at least one Gulf Coast state. An analysis of post incident lessons learned for Katrina (2005), Rita (2005), Wilma (2005), and Ike (2008) clearly defined that coordination between agencies and across every level of government is critical. The NOAA response to each event demonstrated that NOAA has dedicated employees with the expertise to make a difference, willingness to act, and the perseverance to undergo hardships.