Cadalyst

GIS Tech News (#108)

21 Sep, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff


GIS Guides Cleanup and Construction in Tornado Aftermath

In Joplin, Missouri, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers creates maps to help field personnel remove debris and locate safe shelter sites.

By JoAnne Castagna

On the evening of May 22, 2011, a multiple-vortex tornado plowed through the community of Joplin, Missouri. Powerful winds reaching 250 mph shattered the windows of St. John's Regional Medical Center, scattering broken glass on top of critically ill patients and sweeping up furniture, supplies, and medicine into a whirlwind within the violently shaking walls of the hospital.

Terri Edens, an emergency room nurse, was working at the hospital when the storm struck. "When things settled down, we evacuated patients and grabbed what medical supplies and water we could and continued their care in a parking lot outside of the hospital.

"When we got outside," she continued, "we saw how extensive the damage was to the hospital and surrounding area. We then started to receive the walking wounded. A nearby production theater was flattened, and its actors and attendees were streaming our way and people from area homes started flooding our ambulance bay doors."

Bob Hill, a heavy mobile equipment mechanic with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Philadelphia District, surveys the tornado-stricken landscape of the city during a break in debris removal operations. St. John's Regional Medical Center is visible in the background. Image courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Mark Haviland.
Bob Hill, a heavy mobile equipment mechanic with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Philadelphia District, surveys the tornado-stricken landscape of the city during a break in debris removal operations. St. John's Regional Medical Center is visible in the background. Image courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Mark Haviland.

St. John's was just one of the critical public facilities severely damaged during this tornado; schools and fire stations also fell within the funnel's path, which measured approximately one mile wide and six miles long. The deadliest and costliest tornado the United States has experienced in more than 50 years severely damaged or destroyed thousands of buildings, and killed more than 150 individuals.

Managing a Major Mess

Soon after the tornado struck, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and partnering agencies were on the scene, organizing a herculean debris removal effort. The tornado left behind approximately 2 million cubic yards of debris, which is equivalent to 400 football fields piled 3 feet high with rubble. USACE has been using GIS for years to coordinate the removal of massive amounts of debris, relying on the technology after Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 at the World Trade Center, and several California wildfires. Read more »
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JoAnne Castagna is a technical writer and editor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District.

 

Mark Your Calendar: GIS Events

INTERGEO 2011
September 27–29, 2011
Nuremburg, Germany
INTERGEO is an communication platform for geodesy, geoinformation, and land management. The trade fair and conference cover key trends that crop up along the entire value-added chain, from geo-based information surveys and data processing to integrated applications. Read more 

How to Compress LiDAR Files
October 4, 2011
11 a.m. PT
This free webinar from LizardTech is intended for geospatial professionals and decision makers exploring LizardTech's geospatial image products, including LiDAR Compressor software. Read more

GIS for Oil & Gas Pipeline Conference
October 24–26, 2011
Houston, Texas
At the 20th Annual GIS for Oil & Gas Pipeline Conference, participants can benefit from the experience of geospatial professionals at oil and gas pipeline industry organizations. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Cadalyst.com. Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to news@cadalyst.com.

       

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