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Satellite images used to assess damage of Hurricane Katrina

Research has revealed that approximately 511.3 km2 of the earth's surface was submerged.
Hurricane Katrina slammed into the gulf coast area of Louisiana on August 29, 2005 and caused tragic losses of the properties and infrastructures by collapsing the levee systems in New Orleans. The objective of this study is to investigate the damage of Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area by using remote sensing techniques. Landsat, Quickbird and IKONOS satellite images before and after Katrina are used for this study.

The water distribution over the area of Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River is studied by using the Landsat imagery after Hurricane Katrina. It is revealed that approximately 511.3 square kilometers of the earth's surface in this area was submerged. The water depth is obtained by comparing the water level at a gauge station with the digital terrain model. As shown in Figure 1, the submergence was severe near the northern central area on the map and many of residential facilities and infrastructures in those areas were severely damaged.

Figure 2 shows the water damage in a district of city New Orleans. Most roads were severely damaged with the exception of skyways. Also, most (>50%) of the low elevation features such as road, grass, tree and bare land were submerged. Submergence was more severe at the northern part of the city than the southern parts which have relatively higher elevation. About 14% of buildings were submerged and they are believed to be low level structures such as single story buildings or lower part of buildings with sloped roof. Finally, the area of water in the city was tripled (200% more) after Katrina, which shows the severity of the flood in New Orleans.

For more information please feel free to contact the advisor for this project, Associate Professor Jie Shan.

water depth

Figure 1. Water depth in the gulf coast region of Louisiana.

Katrina image
Figure 2. Katrina image and its classification of New Orleans (IKONOS).