Thursday, December 12, 2013

FEMA Flood Maps Failed to Anticipate Hurricane Sandy Damage

"Maps" tend to be an item that get what's left in the financial bucket until something bad happens. Then, in this day and age where the masses are becoming geospatially enabled with GPS, Google maps and the rest, lots of folks start asking questions. A couple of days after release of a second formal investigation into the deaths of 19 wildland firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshot Interagency Crew was raising this issue in Arizona, the same story was playing itself out on the East Coast for FEMA.  Seems there are more than a few folks wondering why their homes were extensively damaged by Hurricane Sandy in areas where FEMA maps showed no risk. Three reporters from ProPublica teamed up with New York public radio station WYNC to answer that question:

(Huffington Post/ProPublica/WYNC Radio, December 6, 2013)

Comment: The choice is real simple. Learn from three incidents where organizational structures had not been aggressively seeking the situational awareness available by spending relatively low amounts of money on mapping technologies to create current and accurate understanding of "where", or end up with a San Bruno (Pacific Gas and Electric), Yarnell Hill Fire (State of Arizona), or Hurricane Sandy type situation (FEMA). That is, spending 10's of millions, or even billions, repairing damage, reputations and settling law suits. The return on investment dynamic is pretty obvious for anyone who is not trapped in their ways.

Picture credit: Elizabethtown College

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