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In Sandy's Aftermath: NOAA Operations Underway to Re-Open Shipping Lanes, Assess Coastal Damage

As the sun comes up in New York this morning, Ensign Lindsey Norman retrieves the side scan sonar that NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson used to survey the Hudson River, so fuel barge traffic could resume.

NOAA post-storm response operations are underway in the aftermath of Sandy. NOAA vessels are now conducting surveys to speed the re-opening of waterways and aircraft are flying missions to capture detailed imagery of coastal storm damage along affected portions of the U.S. East Coast. 

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey began mobilizing to respond to Hurricane Sandy before the storm reached U.S. waters by preparing vessels, personnel, and equipment to conduct hydrographic surveys of hard-hit areas to locate underwater debris and shoaling that can paralyze shipping at the nation’s ports.

The morning after the storm passed, teams began surveying waterways in Chesapeake Bay. By the morning of Nov. 1, eight NOAA vessels were involved in the effort, surveying waterways in New York, New Jersey, Chesapeake Bay, and Delaware Bay, where shipping had been halted.  

Restoring fuel flow into the New York area has been a top priority. Immediately upon arriving on-scene overnight on Nov. 1, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson began surveying the area to search for sunken containers, debris, and shoaling that pose dangers to ships and lives. Using high tech side scan sonar equipment, Thomas Jefferson conducted the hydrographic survey of critical barge pathways in the Hudson River. Using information from this survey, the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port was able to open the port to fuel barge traffic this morning. Surveys by NOAA Ship Ferdinand Hassler and R/V Bay Hydro II allowed the re-opening of shipping channels to Norfolk and Baltimore, where 72 ships were waiting to transit, and navigation response teams surveyed critical port areas and anchorages. 

NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS) also began post-storm aerial operations shortly after the storm passed to assess coastal damage. Using aircraft from NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center, the data contained in these photos provide emergency and coastal managers with the information they need to develop recovery strategies, facilitate search-and-rescue efforts, identify hazards to navigation and HAZMAT spills, locate errant vessels, and provide documentation necessary for damage assessment through the comparison of before-and-after imagery. Collected imagery from Hurricane Sandy is available for viewing online.

NOAA's National Ocean Service is providing daily updates of all NOAA post-storm response activities on their website

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