For More Information

Helping Communities Rebuild and Recover from Sandy (PDF)

Download a summary of how NOS coastal science, management, and operational expertise is aiding communities impacted by Sandy.

Responding to Hurricane Sandy (PDF)

Download a summary of NOS activities before, during, and after the storm.

Emergency Response Imagery

Navigation Response Teams

National Geodetic Survey

Office of Coast Survey

Office of Response and Restoration

NOS Online Hurricane Tools

National Weather Service

Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services

National Water Level Observation Network

Storm QuickLook

Integrated Ocean Observing System

Hurricane Sandy Geospatial Resources from NOAA's Coastal Services Center

Responding to Hurricane Sandy

November 9, 2012
satellite image of Hurricane Sandy

This NOAA GOES-13 satellite image, taken on Oct. 29, 2012, shows Hurricane Sandy centered off of Maryland and Virginia.

NOAA continues to work in partnership with other federal, state, and local partners in response to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. NOAA’s efforts are focused on navigation surveys to restore maritime commerce; aerial surveys to assist in those efforts and to aid on-the-ground responders from FEMA and local authorities; and in oil spill cleanup and damage assessment.  NOAA’s National Weather Service is also keeping authorities aware of changing weather conditions that could impact recovery and response efforts.

Coast Survey

NOAA’s hydrographic survey vessels, including two three-person navigation response teams  (NRTs) and the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson with her two survey launches, have completed surveys of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Working over the past five days, the high-tech vessels searched approximately 20 square nautical miles of shipping lanes, channels, and terminals to search for  dangers to navigation.

Working with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Maritime Transportation System Recovery Unit, NOAA surveyors provided near-real time updates on underwater object detection (including debris and shipping containers) that allowed the USCG Captain of the Port to make decisions on  port status. (Note: Follow the status of port conditions at U.S. Coast Guard Digital News.)

In addition to aiding in the gradual reopening of the New York City-area port to shipping, including special emergency deliveries of needed petroleum fuels products, NOAA navigation survey response teams also provided valuable data to allow for: the reopening of the Port of Hampton Roads, home of the largest Naval base in the world and one of the nation’s leading ports for the shipping of coal; the reopening of the ports of Baltimore and Philadelphia; and the resumption of the ferry that connects Lewes, Del., and Cape May, N.J.—an important access route to bring aid to stricken New Jersey and Delaware shore communities.

While NOAA’s navigation assets have completed their primary assignments, they remain available to continue to assist the USCG as needed, and will be conducting additional surveys in smaller navigational areas of South Jersey and Delaware in coming days.

The NRTs' work helps speed the re-opening of ports and waterways, allowing the flow of relief supplies, and enabling the resumption of ocean commerce—valued at more than $1 trillion annually to the nation's economy—to resume.

NOAA hydrographers and survey technicians will continue to process the billions of points of data collected by the five NOAA vessels since Sandy response operations began on Oct. 30 at the Port of New York and New Jersey. While initial assessments are based off of on-scene observations, additional image processing may reveal further details.

Once processed, Sandy response hydrographic data collected by all NOAA survey vessels in N.Y., N.J., Delaware Bay, and Chesapeake Bay will be available from the National Geophysical Data Center. This data is valuable for contemporary use—but also for reference if NOAA vessels need to re-survey the same areas in future years.

Damage Assessment Imagery

NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey's remote sensing program has concluded capturing aerial photographic surveys of the battered coast. Thousands of photos have been collected to date, most of which are available online. Crews flying in NOAA's King Air turboprop and Twin Otter aircraft surveyed over 1,649 miles of coastline to document coastal damage and impacts to navigation. 

The data contained in these photos provide emergency and coastal managers with the information they need 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.

To date, FEMA has used the NOAA-supplied photos, as well as those from the Civil Air Patrol, to determine damage to some 35,000 homes.

Pollution Response

NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration is providing scientific support to the USCG in responding to a significant spill at the Motiva Refinery in Sewarren, N.J., as well as support for cleanup and assessment of several small spills scattered throughout northern New Jersey’s refinery areas. NOAA will also be looking at impacted natural resources after the spills are contained for possible natural resource damage assessment claims and restorations.

Ongoing NOAA Weather Support

While the immediate focus to Sandy has been on response, NOAA’s National Weather Service is keeping a close eye on weather that might impact response and cleanup operations.

NOAA Post-Storm Operations: Daily Update Log (Archive)

Coast Survey

Nov. 3 Update: Work continues in the Port of New York/New Jersey. Two navigation response teams, and the Thomas Jefferson with two of her launches, are still surveying shipping channels and terminals. View a detailed chart from Coast Survey to see the progress of hydrographic response surveys here.

Nov. 2 Update: Major navigation response operations are completed in Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay, although some additional hydrographic projects are still on Coast Survey's radar in the coming days.

Work continues in the Port of New York/New Jersey. Two navigation response teams, and the Thomas Jefferson with two of her launches, are still clearing shipping channels and terminals.

Nov. 1 Update:

Oct. 31 Update: On Oct. 26, Coast Survey navigation response personnel and assets began moving to their initial positions. Over the weekend, navigation managers made contact with U.S. Coast Guard districts along the East Coast and, by Sunday, were participating with Coast Guard Maritime Transportation System Recovery Units in New England, New York, New Jersey, Delaware (covering Philadelphia and Delaware Bay), Baltimore, and Norfolk. On Oct. 30, NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler and NOAA R/V Bay Hydro II—both located in Norfolk, Va., for the storm— began survey missions at the request of the Hampton Roads Captain of the Port. Early on Oct. 31, a navigation team was surveying anchorage sites in New York/New Jersey, and will soon be joined by another Navigation Response Team that is coming from Florida. NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is currently steaming toward New York Harbor to search for dangerous debris in shipping lanes. Help is also headed to Cape May to ensure safe transit of essential ferry service.

Damage Assessment Imagery

Nov. 3 Update: The third round of damage assessment imagery collected on Nov. 2 of areas including Manhattan, Staten Island, and the north shore of Long Island is now available online.

Nov. 2 Update: The second round of damage assessment imagery collected on Nov. 1 of the New Jersey coastline, part of New York City, and Chesapeake Bay in the area of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Va., is now available online.

Both the NOAA King Air and the NOAA Twin Otter have concluded morning missions for Nov. 2. Areas surveyed included Manhattan, Staten Island, and the north shore of Long Island.  Imagery is expected to be posted this evening. Afternoon missions by both planes are focusing on the north shore and south shore of Long Island.

NGS Emergency Response imagery is spatially referenced, which allows it to be ingested into Geographic Information System (GIS) software.  This attribute is what makes the NGS product unique from most other post-storm imagery providers and is of great value to first responders, decision makers, and the public.

Nov. 1 Update: The first round of damage assessment imagery collected on Oct. 31 along the New Jersey coast is now available online.

Oct. 31 Update: NGS is coordinating with federal, state, and local officials to conduct remote sensing efforts in response to Sandy. Early this morning, a NOAA King Air aircraft collected imagery of high impact areas of New Jersey from Atlantic City to Cape May on its first flight. On a second flight slated for later today, NOAA's King Air will focus on areas of better forecast weather along Virginia Beach, Va., south to Cape Hatteras, N.C. A NOAA Twin Otter aircraft is scheduled to depart later today to collect imagery of areas from Ocean City, Md., south to Cape Henry, Va. (including Wallops Island and Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel).

Hazardous Spill Response

Nov. 3 Update: Hurricane Sandy’s extreme weather conditions—80 to 90 mph winds and sea levels more than 14 feet above normal—spread oil, hazardous materials, and debris across waterways and industrial port areas along the Mid Atlantic. OR&R is working with the U.S. Coast Guard and affected facilities to reduce the impacts of this pollution in coastal New York and New Jersey. Read the full update here.

Oct. 31 Update: As water levels recede and access improves after the major East Coast storm, the U.S. Coast Guard is getting more reports of pollution incidents and port damage. OR&R is actively supporting Coast Guard efforts with on-scene emergency responders and Geographic Information System (GIS) experts. Recovery after hurricanes such as Sandy can take a very long time and OR&R will likely be active in the efforts to promote recovery in the months to come. One of the challenges facing communities after a devastating weather event is information management. ERMA® (Environmental Response Management Application) is a web-based GIS tool that helps both emergency responders and environmental resource managers deal with environmental impacts. OR&R scientists are ensuring that Atlantic ERMA is prepared to aid in this effort. See the latest updates on OR&R's Incident News.

Water-level Monitoring

Before, during, and after Sandy, NOS's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) 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. During the storm, CO-OPS posted regularly updated Storm QuickLooks which provided near real-time compilations of ocean and weather observations for affected coastal areas.