Data sharing makes Southeast better prepared

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Ready for the storm

Technology for hurricane preparedness has forged ahead in recent months at the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Region IV office in Atlanta, which covers the hurricane-prone Southeastern coastal states as well as the rest of the South.

For example, FEMA staff members have been building databases of the actual damage caused last year by hurricane storm surges and winds, and comparing that information to the damage levels that the agency's models predicted, according to Todd Davison, Mitigation Division director for the region.

'We are going over the predictive modeling in the GIS platform,' Davison said, referring to the agency's geographic information system. 'The modeling is so sophisticated that with a certain hurricane intensity and track, you can begin to predict the consequences of the event before landfall [when the storm hits the coast].'

Region IV officials recently held a meeting with GIS specialists from all six states chiefly affected by hurricanes, and honed procedures for sharing data, Davison said.

One of the key factors in the model is the accuracy of information about buildings in the path of hurricanes, Davison said, including data about their age, elevation, location and compliance with building codes.

'That information has improved since last year,' he said.

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