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Resources Related to Natural Disasters


First, a few general sites to use in any search for disaster-related resources, and then examples of what you might come up with if you searched for a particular event and GIS.  Most of the following sites will have resources for multiple events; these are examples to give you ideas, not exhaustive listings.

General Disaster Response Resources

ESRI provides a Disaster Response web site for information on all types of disasters — wildfires, earthquakes, flooding, etc.  This includes continuously-updated map viewers and extensive resource pages.

Google’s Crisis Response project works with government agencies, NGOs and other organizations to provide information in the case of natural disasters and to assist with emergency responses (such as epidemics).

Humanitarian Open Street Map Team “acts as a bridge between the traditional Humanitarian Responders and the OpenStreetMap Community... We believe that free geodata can help save and improve lives in times of political crisis and natural disasters.”

You can expect that any large natural event such as a hurricane or earthquake will be covered by relevant government agencies such as NOAA, FEMA, NASA, USGS, etc. Major newspapers are also often a good source of news and interactive media; Twitter and bloggers can also provide lists of resources.

You can search the Department of the Interior’s Data.gov for recent disasters and disaster preparedness where you can find data, tools and ways to get involved.

Infoplease can be a useful starting point for general information about disasters, natural and man-made.

Hurricane Katrina (2005)

Not originally focused on hurricanes, the The Data Center now includes updates for Katrina in addition to their extensive collection of mapped census data.

Find news, maps and images in the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank.

The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection (UT/Austin) has developed an extensive clearinghouse of Katrina related images and maps.

Government resources include NASA archives and NOAA archives.

The Census Bureau has a Facts for Features page on post-Katrina statistics.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (2010)

Google’s Crisis Response project maintains a page on the Gulf of Mexico 2010 Oil Spill, which includes a multi-layered map, KML files for Google Earth, an index of map and data sites, news and help resources, and a playlist of videos of the spill.

Data Basin has a nicely laid-out resource page with links to datasets and maps.

Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear Crisis (2011)

Japan Quake Map shows an amazing time-lapse sequence of earthquakes beginning on March 11, 2011, which really gives a sense of the aftershocks.

You can browse this extensive collection of visualizations provided by the On the Cutting Edge workshops of the Science, Education and Research Center at Carleton.

GIS Lounge maintains a Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami Mapping Response page which includes map viewers and data portals.

The GIS Doctor provided an initial listing of GIS resources related to the quake.

COVID-19 Resources (2020)

This dashboard from Johns Hopkins tracks COVID-19 cases in the world overall, plus by nation and state, including state-specific information.

The New York Times has produced their own Coronavirus in the US tracker; in addition, they are releasing their own collected data on GitHub

Coronavirus tracking data is also available at The COVID Tracking Project.

This national Coronavirus Tracker breaks out US data by county.  NYS Department of Health has a tracker with mapped county data (click county for county details).

ESRI Impact Planning for COVID-19 collects data from businesses, demographics, and the healthcare system  in order to help counties visualize the impact of coronavirus in their communities.  Many resources are also available from the Education Community.

URISA has mounted an extensive resource page including dashboards, data, webinars and other sources related to COVID-19.

Mapping Support, a reference service of over 3500 federal, state, and other servers, now includes a special search interface for COVID-19-related layers.

ESRI has set up a central repository of COVID-19 resources including data layers.  ESRI has also created a Coronavirus Community for GIS users to share resources and questions.

For users of ArcGIS Pro, ESRI has released an implementation of the Univ. of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Hospital Impact Model for Epidemics (CHIME).  See how this works here.  ESRI previously released a package of ArcGIS Solutions focused on mapping coronavirus.

Last updated: July 7, 2021

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