News & Blog

Re-Writing History the USGS Way:

Posted on February 3, 2008

USGS, the Hero of Hurricane Katrina… Rita, Dennis and Wilma, too . . .

This press release, quoted in its entirety at the bottom of this essay –Couple of dyspeptic thoughts:

After the storms, scientists used satellite imagery coupled with geographic information systems to analyze wetland loss. They concluded that Louisiana lost 217-square miles of wetlands as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Hmm.. . . . The way I understand it, the wetlands were destroyed over the past 20 or 30 years by [mostly]irresponsible cutting of channels through the delta wetlands in projects authorized or even sponsored by the US Army Corps of Engineers — I don’t think there were many USGS careers jeopardized by opposition to that program of the Corps.The chapter titles down below show one study of mangrove damage in Florida from Hurricane Wilma — it seems that USGS isn’t buying into — or maybe hasn’t heard about — the left-wing conspiracy alleging that millions of acres of forest have been totally lost as a result of Katrina/Rita. (See Millions of Trees Damaged by Hurricane Katrina, Forest Experts Find)

Report: How the USGS Responded to 2005 Hurricanes and Addresses Storms Today

Released: 2/1/2008 8:21:13 AMContact Information:U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological SurveyOffice of Communication119 National CenterReston, VA 20192
Gaye FarrisPhone: 337-266-8550Clarice Nassif RansomPhone: 703-648-4299—————Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) say that the lessons learned and technology deployed before, during and after Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005 can be used to help the public, emergency responders and policymakers prepare for and reduce losses from future hurricanes. This and much more is detailed in, “Science and the Storms: the USGS Response to the Hurricanes of 2005,” a new USGS report which was discussed today at two Congressional briefings.The publication showcases everything from the discovery of new storm surge modeling techniques to the use of satellite imagery and airborne lidar, or light detection and ranging, to measure land loss and landscape change to how science helps determine water quality and flooding threats.”Hurricane Rita was the first time we were able to record a hurricane surgethe average water level when a hurricane hitsacross its entire impact zone, from Louisiana to Texas,” said USGS Louisiana Water Science Center Director Charlie Demas. “This helps us with storm surge modeling to better understand the potential damage of future hurricanes, and it was not available before Hurricane Rita.”Storm surges can wipe out entire communities. Many times, the waves on top of the storm surge are as high as the surge is deep.”Holly Beach, Louisiana, is the only community that I know of that was completely destroyed during a hurricane,” said USGS Oceanographer Ashbury Sallenger, talking about Hurricane Rita’s impact. “It remains one of the most potentially hazardous locations in the nation.”After the storms, scientists used satellite imagery coupled with geographic information systems to analyze wetland loss. They concluded that Louisiana lost 217-square miles of wetlands as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita [That’s about twice the size of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands].”People in Louisiana have literally watched their land sink before their eyes,” said USGS National Wetlands Research Center Director Gregory J. Smith.” These are the same wetlands that provide a critical line of defense against coastal storms.”USGS and its partners such as NASA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also used lidar that enabled scientists to discover that the Chandeleur Islands of Louisiana, which buffer the mainland, lost 85 percent of their surface area and all of their sand during Hurricane Katrina. Since then, lidar shows the Islands continue to erode: 58 percent of the coast has retreated.USGS’s efforts to help rescue citizens who called 911 are also featured in the report. Scientists developed a way to assign longitude and latitude to street addresses given by callers and plot these on maps for helicopter and boat operators to perform rescues. More than 8,000 calls were plotted and more than 21,000 people were located and rescued. This effort merited the USGS a Service to America Medal.The report represents the work of about 100 USGS scientists and their cooperators nationwide. It’s available online at, and limited copies may also be available at The Government Printing Office is selling the reports for $30 at—————USGS provides science for a changing world. For more information, visit to USGS News Releases via our electronic mailing list or RSS feed.- – – – – – – – – – – –

Science and the Storms: the USGS Response to the Hurricanes of 2005

ContentsFront Matter PDF (1.15 MB)ForewordPrefaceAcknowledgmentsChapter 1. The Need for Science in Restoring Resilience to the Northern Gulf of MexicoRestoring Resilience to the Gulf of Mexico Coast PDF (991 kB)Chapter 2. The Storms of 2005Cycles of Hurricane Landfalls on the Eastern United States Linked to Changes in Atlantic Sea-surface Temperatures PDF (767 kB)The Major Hurricanes of 2005: a Few Facts PDF (2.1 MB)Chapter 3. Rescue and ResponseUSGS Humanitarian and Geospatial Response for Search and Rescue After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita PDF (1 MB)Using Geospatial Technology To Process 911 Calls After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita PDF (1 MB)Geotechnical Reconnaissance of the Mississippi River Delta Flood-protection System After Hurricane Katrina PDF (2.9 MB)Analysis of the Interstate 10 Twin Bridge’s Collapse During Hurricane Katrina PDF (3 MB)Estimation of Post-Katrina Debris Volume: an Example from Coastal Mississippi PDF (930 kB)Hurricane Katrina Flooding and Oil Slicks Mapped with Satellite Imagery PDF (1.1 MB)Topography-based Analysis of Hurricane Katrina Inundation of New Orleans PDF (879 kB)Temporal Analysis of Floodwater Volumes in New Orleans After Hurricane Katrina PDF (1.5 MB)Chapter 4. How Technology HelpsUSGS Rocky Mountain Geographic Science Center’s 2005 Hurricane Response and Recovery Activities PDF (4.4 MB)Data Access and Dissemination for Emergency Response and Long-term Recovery Efforts Related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita PDF (920 kB)GIS for the Gulf: a Reference Database for Hurricane-affected Areas PDF (614 kB)ASTER and USGS EROS Emergency Imaging for Hurricane Disasters PDF (1.2 MB)Chapter 5. Landscape ChangesAerial Rapid Assessment of Hurricane Damages to Northern Gulf Coastal Habitats PDF (2 MB)Land Area Changes in Coastal Louisiana After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita PDF (5.1 MB)Extreme Changes to Barrier Islands Along the Central Gulf of Mexico Coast During Hurricane Katrina PDF (1.1 MB)Impacts of Hurricane Rita on the Beaches of Western Louisiana PDF (1 MB)Chapter 6. Ecological ImpactsImpacts of Hurricane Katrina on Floodplain Forests of the Pearl River PDF 1.4 MB)Broad-scale Response of Landbird Migration to the Immediate Effects of Hurricane Katrina PDF (943 kB)Potential Consequences of Saltwater Intrusion Associated with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita PDF (2.2 MB)Cheniere Forest as Stopover Habitat for Migrant Landbirds: Immediate Effects of Hurricane Rita PDF (1.7 MB)Sediment Deposition from Hurricane Rita on Hackberry Beach Chenier in Southwestern Louisiana PDF (1.1 MB)Wind Damage and Salinity Effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on Coastal Baldcypress Forests of Louisiana PDF (858 kB)A Tale of Two Storms: Surges and Sediment Deposition from Hurricanes Andrew and Wilma in Florida’s Southwest Coast Mangrove Forests PDF (1.1 MB)Predicting Mangrove Forest Recovery on the Southwest Coast of Florida Following the Impact of Hurricane Wilma, October 2005 PDF (871 kB)Estuarine Response in Northeastern Florida Bay to Major Hurricanes in 2005 PDF (2 MB)Research on the Impacts of Past and Future Hurricanes on the Endangered Florida Manatee PDF (851 kB)Chapter 7. Aquatic EnvironmentsExamining Offshore Sediment-hosted Contaminant Transport from Hurricane Katrina PDF (3.6 MB)Selected Chemical Composition of Deposited Sediments in the Flooded Areas of New Orleans Following Hurricane Katrina PDF (884 kB)Soil and Sediment Chemistry in the Mississippi River Delta Following Hurricane Katrina PDF (869 kB)Effects of Hurricane Katrina’s Storm Surge on the Quality of Shallow Aquifers near the Northern Shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain, Southeastern Louisiana PDF (867 kB)Water Quality of Lake Pontchartrain and Outlets to the Gulf of Mexico Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita PDF (928 kB)Effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Chemistry of Bottom Sediments in Lake Pontchartrain, La. PDF (940 kB)Environmental Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Lake Pontchartrain PDF (1.2 MB)Bacteriological Water Quality in and Around Lake Pontchartrain Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita PDF (926 kB)Characterization of Flood Sediments from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and Potential Implications for Human Health and the Environment PDF (3.8 MB)Monitoring Hurricane Rita Inland Storm Surge PDF (1.5 MB)Chapter 8. Science and the Storms: the Science ContinuesCurrent and Future Science Plans for Restoring a Resilient Coast PDF (602 kB)Back Matt
er PDF (466 kB)EpilogueAuthor Index

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