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Man in hard hat at the Panama Canal under construction.
2014 Accomplishments: The Year in Review

NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration is helping minimize environmental damages and prepare coastal communities to better deal with the impacts of marine debris, oil spills, and hazardous waste pollution.

Our accomplishments in fiscal year 2014 speak to our dedication in providing world-class science and solutions for protecting and restoring the nation's resources from coastal environmental hazards.

  • 138. That's the number of oil spills, chemical releases, and other threats we responded to.
  • 21. That's the number of training and response events hosted at the Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center.
  • $2,295,442. That's the amount awarded in grants and cooperative agreements for marine debris prevention, removal, and research.
  • 2,388. That's the number of people we trained in oil spill response and planning.
  • $627 million. That's the amount approved for Phase III of early environmental restoration in the Gulf of Mexico resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
View of bay in the Gulf of Mexico.
NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center

NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center (DRC) brings together NOAA-wide resources to improve preparedness, planning, and response capacity for natural and manmade disasters along the Gulf Coast. Located in Mobile, Alabama, the center is focused on the five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico.

The facility is designed to survive up to Category 5 hurricane winds, contains a Force-5 tornado shelter, and has backup power systems to continue operations in the midst of severe weather. Intended to serve as a safe and ready command center during major disaster responses in the Gulf, the DRC also offers facilities for drills, trainings, workshops, and planning activities.

People at tables in a conference room.
An All-Hazards Training Hub

NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center (DRC) sponsored or hosted 21 different meetings, workshops, and training events at the Mobile-based facility in fiscal year 2014. These events included a Federal Regional Response Team meeting, a Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program class, NOAA's Science of Oil Spills class, and a tropical storm–preparedness exercise co-sponsored by the National Weather Service.

The DRC also hosted the Alabama Emergency Management Agency for their class on Managing Floodplain Development through the National Flood Insurance Program. In addition, the DRC provided meeting space for Mobile County Emergency Management Agency for their local Mass Care meeting, which is held annually.

Providing a home for these trainings allows the DRC to be a central hub for all-hazards coordination and to improve emergency responder readiness throughout the Gulf of Mexico region.

Boat barn at Disaster Response Center.
Facilities Ready for Response

The Disaster Response Center (DRC) added a 3,500 square foot vessel storage building known as the "Boat Barn." The Boat Barn was designed to provide a staging area for equipment and NOAA Navigation Response Team vessels in the event of a major disaster, whether environmental or manmade.

Built to the same standards as the DRC, this additional facility can withstand severe weather and sustained winds up to a Category 5 hurricane. It has room to house up to four vessels.

People sitting around a conference table.
Preparing for Storms in the Gulf of Mexico

The Disaster Response Center partnered with the National Weather Service to assess the hurricane response capabilities of NOAA partners in the Gulf of Mexico through a tabletop exercise simulating a response to the fictitious storm "Tropical Storm Topaz." This discussion-based exercise was designed to improve preparedness, allow NOAA offices to become familiar with other offices' abilities, and demonstrate the measures taken from the beginning to the end of a major storm, should one threaten the Gulf Coast.

The three day exercise brought together 38 participants from the National Ocean Service, National Weather Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Ocean and Atmospheric Research, Homeland Security Program Office, and National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service.

This exercise fostered awareness and partnerships across NOAA offices, while also helping establish better communication among the offices.

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Introduction