The USGS, NOAA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct an extensive survey in order to re-map coastal waters and shorelines that were damaged by hurricane Sandy. The project will be financed with emergency funds given to the agencies by Congress. The goal of the surveying initiative is to produce new land-maps and new nautical charts of areas along the east coast of the United States.
Surveyors from all three agencies will “measure water depths, look for submerged debris, and record altered shorelines in high priority areas from South Carolina to Maine.” According the USGS, “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.”
Maps produced from the surveying project will serve a number of important purposes. According to NOAA Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, the approach for the mapping project is to “map once” and then use the data for many different purposes. He asserts that the approach will allow NOAA and its partenrs to “get as much information as possible from every dollar invested to help states build more resilient coastlines.”
The surveying and mapping initiative is particularly important given that the damage from Sandy was so extensive. According to the USGS, Sandy was the second-most costly cyclone to hit the United States since 1900. Damages from Sandy are estimated at $50 billion. Further, there were 147 fatalities directly related to the storm.
In a USGS News Release, Kevin Gallagher of the USGS states that “Sandy’s most fundamental lesson is that storm vulnerability is a direct consequence of the elevation of coastal communities in relation to storm waves.” In order to prepare the East Coast for future storms, the mapping and survey initiative will collect high-resolution data at higher levels of accuracy than have been collected in the past. Gallagher goes on to say that “Communities will benefit greatly from the higher resolution and accuracy of new elevation information to better prepare for storm impacts, develop response strategies, and design resilient and cost-efficient post-storm redevelopment.” According to the News Release, the elevation data “will become part of a new initiative, called the 3D Elevation Program, to systematically acquire improved, high-resolution elevation data across the United States.”
More information about the project is available here.