Representative Project Experience: Rapid Response Reports for the Hazard Mitigation Technical Assistance Program

Government Services IPT supported the creation of a series of Rapid Response reports regarding damage incurred during the 2005 hurricane season. Government Services IPT supported the quick movement into disaster-stricken areas to collect perishable data for use in defining the parameters of the event, which was used in future studies and flood mitigation activities.

The purpose of these reports was to provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with an overview of the types and amount of wind and water damage associated with the landfall of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Dennis in the states of Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Alabama. These reports provide wind and water damage data observed along the path of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Dennis through their respective states. These studies document the inland inundation limits of the storm surge flooding and areas subject to both seawater flooding and wind damages or losses.

The teams collected site data, damage data, photographs, and maps from each location. Location maps were contained in individual database sites. Site information included address, latitude/longitude coordinates, and a general description of the representative damage observed in the area. In addition to the site information, general information was obtained on affected buildings and their use. Estimated building age, the type of structure, the construction materials used in the structure (when possible), and adjacent utility information was captured (if relevant). Finally, damage information was recorded including wind direction, type of wind and water damage, related flood damage to the structure, and other relevant information.

Government Services IPT presented a number of conclusions and recommendations based upon the analysis of the raw data collected including an analysis of utilities (commercial vs. residential infrastructure) affected and reasons for why one was impacted more than others. The team recommended strategies to decrease damage during future similar events, including hardening of structures in high impact areas, and more readily available sources for portable generation. The information provided in these reports is invaluable to local, state, and Federal emergency managers and the general public in preparing for future storms, setting national insurance flood standards, and providing a general accounting of the types and breadth of damage incurred during the 2005 hurricane season.