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Hurricane Response

When hurricanes threaten, OR&R is there to provide operational capabilities, knowledge, and on-the-ground support ensuring commerce, communities, and natural resources are able to recover from the impact  of disasters as quickly as possible.

An aerial image of oil in a flooded marsh area coming from an oil facility.
An oil leak after Hurricane Laura. Image credit: U.S. Coast Guard.
National Ocean Service Incident Management Team

Led by OR&R’s Disaster Preparedness Program, the National Ocean Service Incident Management Team is composed of representatives from across each NOS offices, The team is activated to ensure continuity of operations, incident coordination, and situational awareness within NOS throughout the duration of the response. OR&R provides the team with an incident coordinator during hurricanes, who focuses on gathering information about impacted NOS people, mission, and infrastructure, as well as facilitating coordination among multiple NOS emergency response roles. 

Partner Support

During hurricane responses, OR&R advises response efforts on relevant NOAA and NOS capabilities and resources as well as facilitates the delivery of science, technical, management, and natural resource services. When activated, OR&R's Emergency Response Division and NOAA's Marine Debris Program, within OR&R, support the federal response under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Support Function (ESF) #3 – Public Works and Engineering, ESF #5 - Information and Planning, and ESF #10 – Oil and Hazardous Materials Response. 

OR&R provides scientific support for oil and chemical response efforts in coastal areas. The office surveys vessels or containers that may be leaking fuel, oil, or other hazardous materials; flies or uses remote sensing to identify and document spill sources; provides information systems to track spills and potential sources to resolution; identifies environmental sensitivities and best management practices; and uses computer models to predict spill movement and determine pollution threats. 

In addition, OR&R provides guidance on marine debris and vessel salvage, and conducts shoreline cleanup assessments. During response operations, OR&R’s Marine debris experts work under ESF #3 to integrate guidance into debris plans, drawing on Marine Debris Emergency Response Guides developed with the community. 

A displaced vessel with hurricane debris.
Panama City, Florida, after Hurricane Michael.
Hurricane Response Tools

OR&R’s Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA®) is an online mapping tool that provides critical historical and real-time data for emergency responders and decision makers by highlighting environmental sensitivities, navigation concerns, weather, and ocean current data within U.S. regions for disaster preparedness and response. 

Using this tool, OR&R coordinates National Geodetic Survey imagery of the impacted areas to other federal agencies and stakeholders as available, which provides a detailed look often before responders mobilize to impacted areas. OR&R maintains this tool, provides training and expertise on it, and supports partners, such as the U.S. Coast Guard, in its use both in the field and remotely.

Last updated Friday, January 6, 2023 9:40am PST