Disaster Mapping: Using UAS to Assess Hurricane Damage at Mexico Beach, FL

Authors: Austin Taylor Bush*, Florida State University
Topics: UAS / UAV, Drones, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: UAS, UAV, Drone Mapping, Disaster Recovery, Hurricane Michael
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

On October 10th, 2018 Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida panhandle causing widespread destruction. At the time of landfall, Michael was classified as a Category 4 Hurricane will peak winds of 155mph and has been deemed the strongest storm on record to hit the Florida Panhandle region. Sitting right in the path of the storm was Mexico Beach, a small town with approximately 1,072 people as of the 2010 census, that was completely "wiped out" according to FEMA and other agencies involved in initial storm response. Immediately after the storm passed, ground teams from various Federal/State/Local agencies were put into action to assess the devastation. Aerial imagery was collected by several teams of UAS operators 18 hours after landfall, which was then used to create high-resolution orthomosaic maps that could then be used to assess initial damages. Now recognizing that the reconstruction process is in full effect and building moratoriums have been lifted, UAS operators are revisiting Mexico Beach and the Bay County area to collect updated imagery for change-detection analyses. Understanding how this high-resolution imagery can be optimally integrated into the reconstruction efforts by local agencies is vitally important and has the potential for supporting a much more effective response in the wake of natural disasters.

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