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Disaster Response Center

26 August 2011, 2:30 pm

Disaster Response Center

Disaster Response Center

Construction of the Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center (DRC) is slated to be completed in 2011. Due to the high degree of vulnerability to natural disasters in the Gulf of Mexico, NOAA is designing the DRC 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. 

What is the DRC?

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. 

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) will deliver 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.

Gulf Coast Hub

The Disaster Response Center will focus 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 will increase 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 will help to streamline the delivery of NOAA services that address regional emergency preparedness and response issues while also identifying unmet operational and science application requirements.

Regional Understanding

Federal responders and Gulf Coast emergency managers look to the agency to provide data, decision support, and targeted scientific services.

Federal responders and Gulf Coast emergency managers look to the agency to provide data, decision support, and targeted scientific services.

Once operational, the DRC will 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 will work 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 will also serve 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.

Training & Readiness

The DRC will build close relationships with federal, state and local emergency managers in the Gulf of Mexico.   One way that the DRC will improve regional readiness and training will be as a mechanism to provide 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 will establish a permanent staging area and coordination point for all NOAA personnel along the Gulf Coast to prepare for and respond to coastal hazards. Read more (redirect to original article)

About the Facility

Due to the high degree of vulnerability to natural disasters in the Gulf of Mexico, NOAA is designing the Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center (DRC) to be resistant to hurricane force winds.  Opening in spring 2011, 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. Read more (redirect to original article)

Original article: Disaster Response Center