A NOAA navigation response team vessel in New York Harbor following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
On the heels of the Aug. 19 release of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force progress report, three federal agencies have announced plans for remapping parts of the East Coast, where Hurricane Sandy altered seafloors and shorelines, destroyed buildings, and disrupted millions of lives last year.
NOAA, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are using emergency supplemental funds provided by Congress to survey coastal waters and shorelines, acquiring data that will update East Coast land maps and nautical charts.
Using ships, aircraft, and satellites, the agencies will measure water depths, look for submerged debris, and record altered shorelines in high priority areas from South Carolina to Maine, as stipulated by Congress in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. The areas to be remapped will be based on their relative dangers to navigation, effects from the storm, and discussions with state and local officials as well as the maritime industry.
The data, much of which will be stored at NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center, and through NOAA’s Digital Coast, will be open to local, state, and federal agencies as well as academia and the general public. The information can be applied to updating nautical charts, removing marine debris, replenishing beaches, making repairs, and planning for future storms and coastal resilience.
Preliminary U.S. damage estimates are near $50 billion, making Sandy the second-costliest cyclone to hit the United States since 1900. There were at least 147 direct deaths recorded across the Atlantic basin due to Sandy, with 72 of these fatalities occurring in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States. This is the greatest number of U.S. direct fatalities related to a tropical cyclone outside of the southern states since Hurricane Agnes in 1972.