NOS Hurricane Response (pdf, 426 kb)
Responding to Hurricane Sandy (pdf, 2.7mb)
Helping Communities Rebuild and Recover from Sandy (pdf, 3.9mb)
NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) brings a wealth of coastal science, management, and operational expertise to aid communities impacted by hurricanes in their recovery. NOS is on the front lines to help America understand, predict, and respond to the challenges facing our oceans and coasts. The following is a compilation of NOS's roles and responsibilities before, during, and after a hurricane.
Hurricane Sandy as seen from NOAA's GOES-13 satellite on October 28, 2012. NOAA's National Ocean Service helps coastal communities prepare for and recover from major coastal storms such as hurricanes.
As a storm approaches U.S. coastal areas, NOS uses coastal observations and computer models to prepare for, mitigate, and respond to coastal flooding, one the greatest threats to life and property during a hurricane.
The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services monitors and disseminates observations of water levels, currents, and weather information in real time via the National Water Level Observation Network and the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System. Collected real-time environmental information helps coastal authorities prepare for, mitigate, and respond to storm tides and coastal flooding. NOS also regularly updates Storm QuickLook, an online compilation of ocean and weather observations within a coastal area.
Following hurricanes, NOS is one of the key partners immediately responding with a range of activities. NOS efforts focus on navigation surveys to restore maritime commerce; aerial surveys to assist in those efforts and to aid on-the-ground responders and local authorities; and oil spill cleanup and damage assessment.
Immediately following a hurricane, the Office of Coast Survey provides emergency hydrographic services for affected port areas. These services are performed by Navigation Response Teams. These mobile emergency response units use echo sounders to check for submerged obstructions that pose hazards to vessels, collect data to update nautical charts, and provide mapping support. The work of these teams is essential to speeding the re-opening of ports and waterways.
Just hours after a hurricane hits a coastal area, the National Geodetic Survey begins flying photo survey missions to assess storm damage. The data contained in these photos provide emergency and coastal managers with information needed to develop recovery strategies, facilitate search and rescue efforts, identify hazards to navigation and HAZMAT spills, locate errant vessels, and provide documentation necessary for damage assessment through the comparison of before and after imagery.
After a hurricane, the Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) provides scientific support to hazardous materials response efforts in coastal areas. The office surveys vessels or containers that may be leaking fuel, oil, or other hazardous materials; flies missions to identify and document spill sources; and uses computer models to predict spill movement and determine pollution threats. OR&R also provides guidance on marine debris and vessel salvage, conducts shoreline cleanup assessments, collects information to understand natural resource impacts from spills in affected areas, and works to assess and restore resources injured by spills.
NOAA’s National Status and Trends (NS&T) Program, part of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, coordinates with multiple partners to develop strategies to assess the environmental impacts of contaminants in coastal and estuarine waters in the aftermath of hurricanes. Of special concern is assessing the risk to human health of eating fish and shellfish and ensuring seafood safety.
Following a hurricane, the NOAA Coastal Services Center provides the satellite and aerial images needed to generate maps that help officials understand the long-term effects of the hurricane. These data products include pre-hurricane imagery and digital elevation data from a variety of sources; before and after imagery comparisons; and maps depicting ecological impacts, debris assessment, and wetlands loss along the coast. The Center may also conduct studies that focus on a storm’s economic impacts.
NOS leads coastal management efforts across the nation and is the primary conduit for data and services to support informed coastal decision making. NOS has unique expertise in protecting coastal and estuarine habitat, reducing marine debris, and providing navigation, coastal mapping, observing, monitoring, and high-accuracy geospatial positioning services. In combination with our decision support, technical assistance, and training activities, NOS provides an unparalleled and powerful suite of resources and tools to aid recovery.
The NOAA Coastal Services Center and the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management provide assistance in long-term recovery planning in areas impacted by a hurricane. Staff may assist in the development of coastal project plans, coordinate with other federal and state organizations involved in recovery planning, and assist with the design and implementation of activities to involve local communities in planning for their own long-term recovery.