MCEER logo

MCEER Bulletin, Volume 25, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2011

skip navigation

Volume 25, Number 1, 2011

mceer logo

LESAM/MCEER Team Assesses Damage in NYS Following Tropical Storm Irene

UB LESAM/MCEER site reconnaissance team

The UB LESAM/MCEER site reconnaissance team visited Prattsville, NY to collect images and document the extent of damage in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. Shown from left are Ryan Mendieta, Alejandro Llaves, Zhihao Wang and Graham Hayes.

A team of researchers from two University at Buffalo (UB) centers, Landscape-based Environmental System Analysis & Modeling (LESAM) and MCEER, visited a number of communities within the Schoharie Creek watershed west of the Catskill Mountains in New York State following Tropical Storm Irene. The team focused on the hard hit town of Prattsville, where they collected GPS locations and took digital photographs to assess the extent of the damage caused by heavy flooding following the storm.

In addition to the field site observations, the LESAM/ MCEER team is analyzing the hydrological data, maximum extent of the flood inundation using aerial imagery, LiDAR elevation data, hydrologic modeling approaches and social media responses. The aerial imagery was collected by the Information Products Laboratory for Emergency Response (IPLER) collaborators at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and Kucera International using the same remote sensing platform used following the 2010 Haiti Earthquake (http://mceer.buffalo.edu/ research/Reconnaissance/Haiti1- 12-10/VDVHaitiData.asp). In addition to the assessment of this event, the data will be used to create a baseline to assist scientists and the stakeholders in the impacted communities in the development of improved flood and watershed models for future events.

Severely damaged structure

A structure that was severely damaged by floodwaters in Prattsville.

Some results from the mission, primarily extreme event modeling and validation, were reported at a briefing to emergency managers, including representatives from the New York State Emergency Management Office (NYSEMO) on Dec 20, 2011 in Auburn, NY. The analysis was based on satellite and airborne remote sensing data sets and standardized geospatial data sets that could be applied to other impacted watersheds if requested.

The reconnaissance took place on September 10, 2011, and the team included Chris Renschler (LESAM Director, MCEER investigator and NSF IPLER Co-PI), Graham Hayes (postdoctoral LESAM Research scientist), and Ryan Mendieta, Alejandro Llaves, Zhihao Wang (all students in UB’s Department of Geography working on LESAM research).

The reconnaissance was arranged by the NSF-sponsored IPLER project (http://ipler.cis. rit.edu), co-led by RIT and UB.