Remotely sensed images provide emergency response officials and scientists with a unique perspective for assessing damage and targeting relief. These images also offer educators a unique, teachable moment for the classroom. In the classroom, an event such as Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on 29 August along the central U.S. Gulf Coast and prompted the flooding of much of New Orleans, Louisiana, can make Earth science relevant in a way that a daily lecture cannot.
The U.S. Geological Survey's Center for Earth Resources Observations and Science (USGS/EROS) is the nation's central clearinghouse for visual, satellite, and land-surface data. EROS also is the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency's organization for data distribution. When first responders expressed an urgent need for information to help determine the best way to save stranded homeowners in New Orleans—by either boat or truck, depending on how deep the floodwaters were—the EROS Emergency Response Team collated the data necessary to create a bathymetric map of the city.