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Category 4 Hurricane Strikes Central Florida

map of hurricane charley area

GPS-logged routes in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda along which VIEWS was deployed, recording geo-referenced digital video and digital photographs.

Photo of Views System

VIEWS field reconnaissance system in operation

MCEER researchers had a unique opportunity to collect perishable damage survey data using satellite imagery following Hurricane Charley. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center (NHRAIC) and MCEER, the data gathered will support subsequent research aimed at improving the effectiveness of disaster response.

Hurricane Charley was the most severe wind storm to strike the US since 1992. Making landfall on August 13, 2004 at 4 p.m. ET, 145 mph winds devastated the Florida coastal cities of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, and 10 ft. high waves wreaked havoc on nearby barrier islands. In the hours following, a Presidential disaster declaration was issued for twenty-five counties in the impacted region. The event resulted in the loss of at least 27 lives, and caused more than $15.4 billion of damage.

This event is the first Category 4 hurricane for which ‘before’ and ‘after’ satellite imagery is available from very high-resolution systems, such as Quickbird and IKONOS. From a scientific perspective, it therefore offers a unique opportunity to investigate the use of remote sensing for post-disaster urban damage assessment, technology which has the potential for improving the effectiveness of disaster response activities.

In order to validate building damage characteristics identified on the satellite imagery, corresponding ground-based observations are required. There is a narrow time window for documenting the building and infrastructure damage from extreme windstorm events, as clean-up operations are typically initiated as soon as possible. Through funding from the National Science Foundation Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) program and the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center Quick Response program, two field reconnaissance trips have been conducted by ImageCat in conjunction with the Wind Science Research and Engineering (WISE) Research Center at Texas Tech, to collect perishable damage data using the VIEWS (Visualizing Impacts of Earthquakes With satellites) system, which was developed by ImageCat through funding from MCEER (Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research). It is envisioned that the data collected will ultimately form the basis of research activities extending the application of post-disaster damage assessment methodologies and algorithms developed for earthquakes to multiple hazards. This research will result in significant advances for windstorm engineering.

Field Report

before image of damaged area after image of damaged area destroyed houses on the ground

These three images compare the same location: satellite image before the hurricane (left) satellite image after the hurricane (middle), and a digital photo of the circled area in the satellite images taken during the reconnaissance trip (right).



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