Due to the high degree of vulnerability to natural disasters in the Gulf of Mexico, the Disaster Response Center (DRC) is designed to be resistant to hurricane force winds. The 15,000 square foot building, located in Mobile, Alabama, is scheduled to receive a silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, whose LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification program sets the standard for environmentally sensitive design in the U.S.
Over the past decade, the greater Gulf of Mexico region has been battered not only by hurricanes and oil spills, but by numerous natural and human-caused events such as tornadoes, droughts, harmful algal blooms, dead zones, and wildfire. The impacts from these events have lasting effects on vital economic drivers such as fishing, boating and tourism.
An aerial view of Galveston, Texas, before Hurricane Ike in 2008. Roll over the image with your mouse to see what the same section of land looked like after the storm had passed. 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.
NOAA contributes a variety of services before, during, and after response events including severe weather forecasts and surge predictions, navigation surveys to open waterways for recovery of boating and fishing, models and assessments of the impacts of oil spills and hazardous releases, and real-time atmospheric and marine observational data critical to local and regional decision making.
While we often can’t prevent these severe events, we can help reduce the impacts by helping to prepare federal, state, and local decision makers for a variety of threats. We can also use cutting-edge science and up-to-date information to assist in making coastal communities more resilient. The Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center (DRC) delivers state of the art science and information to emergency managers and other critical stakeholders to assist them in making timely decisions using the best available information to protect and restore the Gulf Coast’s communities, economies, and valuable natural resources.
NOAA response personnel at work in the Incident Command in Houma, Louisiana, in support of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill. NOAA's new Disaster Response Center will now serve as a central coordination point for NOAA as well as federal, state, and local partners to prepare for and respond to natural and man-made emergency events in the Gulf Coast region.
The Disaster Response Center focuses on the needs of federal, state, and local partners who rely on NOAA scientific support in times of emergency and serve as a central coordination point in the Gulf of Mexico for access to these products and services.
The Center increases interactions with stakeholders ranging from federal, state, and local emergency managers to coastal zone managers, public health officials, port officials, and local municipalities. These close interactions under one roof helps to streamline the delivery of NOAA services that address regional emergency preparedness and response issues while also identifying unmet operational and science application requirements.
NOAA Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA). NOAA's ERMA combines static data layers with real-time information, in a user friendly, format to deliver a common operating picture to incident managers and coastal decision makers.
Federal responders and Gulf Coast emergency managers look to the agency to provide data, decision support, and targeted scientific services.
One of the primary functions of the DRC is to engage state and local emergency managers on appropriate use of NOAA scientific support before, during, and after an incident. Examples of such support include environmental response mapping applications; oil spill and marine debris models; HAB prediction and warnings; custom data access channels; timely and accurate tide, current, geodetic and navigation data; shoreline aerial imagery; toxin and pollutant trajectory; and impact information.
Through the DRC, NOAA works to improve regional understanding of the coastal risks and vulnerabilities to all hazards by applying assessment and mitigation tools, and adopting risk-based planning and policies.
The DRC also serves as a central coordination point for training and outreach efforts for critical regional issues like risk communication on coastal flooding and storm surge evacuation, seafood safety, oil and chemical spills, marine debris, and impacts to wildlife and sensitive habitats.
One way that the DRC improves regional readiness is by providing training to constituents during actual response activities. For instance, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill proved that many federal and state personnel were not properly trained in the operations of the Incident Command System (ICS) and had to be trained on the fly to integrate with the Unified Command. The DRC establishes a permanent staging area and coordination point for all NOAA personnel along the Gulf Coast to prepare for and respond to coastal hazards.
Ongoing and planned DRC readiness and training activities include:
Due to the high degree of vulnerability to natural disasters in the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center (DRC) is designed to be resistant to hurricane force winds. The 15,000 square foot building, located in Mobile, Alabama is scheduled to receive a silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, whose LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification program sets the standard for environmentally sensitive design in the U.S. Some of the green design elements for the DRC include:
The Center aims to conserve energy, water, and natural resources, while increasing long-term operational savings and reducing impacts on human health and the environment.