This section of the GeoCONOPS explores the details of applying geospatial technologies in support of efforts following a catastrophic natural event. The New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) earthquake scenario has been selected as a discussion focus for the preceding text. The NMSZ has a 10 percent probability of a catastrophic NMSZ earthquake in the next fifty years.

The GeoCONOPS uses a detailed scenario to outline the expected geospatial activities that will occur as a result of a catastrophic NMSZ earthquake. Documenting the timing for application of geospatial tools as a result of a NMSZ scenario provides an understanding of activities resulting from an earthquake no-notice event. The geospatial activities can be applied to response efforts of an actual catastrophic event or support disaster exercises.

The NMSZ earthquake scenario was developed by FEMA and the Mid America Earthquake (MAE) Center for contingency planning efforts to assist in defining the federal government’s response to an earthquake in the NMSZ. The NMSZ earthquake scenario is a magnitude 7.7 (Richter scale) earthquake caused by a simultaneous rupture over the entire length of three separate segments in the NMSZ impacting an eight-state region.

HAZUS was used to estimate losses in the eight impacted states, in support of the multi-year New Madrid Catastrophic Planning Initiative. The earthquake model estimates the impacts of scenario earthquakes on buildings, transportation and utility lifelines, and the population at risk. Model outputs include maps and tables of estimated losses.

Figure 5-1 shows the ground shaking intensity from the scenario event. As a result of this intensity, high-level impacts include:

  • Severe ground shaking occurs in western Kentucky, Tennessee, southeast Missouri, and northeast Arkansas.
  • An estimated 141 counties are impacted in the eight state region.
  • By day three, approximately three million people will seek shelter.
  • There are approximately 82,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths.
  • Approximately 715,000 buildings will be damaged, with 230,000 damaged beyond repair.
  • Aftershocks of magnitude six are likely to occur in the days and weeks following the initial event.

Modeled Earthquake Impacts

The following section highlights the nature and scope of damage in the NMSZ of a magnitude 7.7 earthquake, including social impacts (casualties, shelter requirements, displaced households, etc.), damage to buildings and essential facilities, and damage and loss of functionality to transportation and utility lifelines.


The Central U.S. has high concentrations of unreinforced masonry structures and other buildings that are vulnerable to even moderate levels of ground shaking from earthquakes. Damage to vulnerable structures contributes to the estimated 85,000 casualties that occur in the scenario earthquake, including an estimated 3,500 fatalities.

The largest number of total casualties occurs in Western Tennessee, with 25% of all casualties occurring in the Memphis area. Northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri also incur substantial casualties, as shown in Figure 5-2.

Displaced Population and Shelter Requirements

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake will cause a massive displacement of households in the NMSZ. The HAZUS methodology calculates displaced and shelter-seeking populations based on damage to residential structures, and severe and long-term damage to lifeline systems, including water and power. This “At Risk” population is shown in
(see Table 5–1 on page 86). At Risk on Day 1 includes estimates of displaced people. At Risk on Day 3 includes displaced plus those without power or water for at least 72 hours.

Estimates for the number of people seeking shelter are calculated as a percentage of the displaced population, taking into consideration demographic composition factors including ethnicity, age, and income level. These demographic factors influence the number of families seeking shelter in a region. For example, those families with limited financial means are more likely to seek public shelter and require short-term housing.

A preliminary analysis of shelter availability and the shelter requirements defined in Table 5–1, conducted as part of the NMSZ catastrophic planning initiative, reveals significant shelter gaps in the NMSZ, with the exception of northern parts of Illinois and Indiana.

Structure Damage

Overall, there are more than 700,000 buildings moderately or severely damaged in the eight states that are in the NMSZ.

As reflected in Figure 5-3, Arkansas and Tennessee experience the most significant building damage. The scenario earthquake would cause at least moderate or severe damage to over 265,000 buildings in Tennessee alone, including nearly 50,000 unreinforced masonry structures.

Essential Facilities

In the aftermath of this event, there will be limited medical, firefighting, and law enforcement services in the most impacted states in the NMSZ. Table 5–2 shows the total number of essential facilities in the seven states most at risk from a catastrophic earthquake in the NMSZ, estimates of “at least moderate damage” and estimates of “complete damage.”

Data Analysis:

  • Approximately 80 percent of essential facilities that sustain complete damage are located in the three regions: western Tennessee, southeast Missouri, and eastern Arkansas.
  • Many schools in the study area are unreinforced masonry structures, which account for a high percentage of moderately damaged and completely damaged school buildings.
  • Over 40 EOCs will be completely damaged, which will significantly impact the ability of local emergency response to respond to needs.

Transportation System Damage

The scenario earthquake damages over 3,500 highway bridges in the 140 counties in the NMSZ. Approximately 1,255 highway bridges will sustain complete damage. Many of these bridges cross the Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Arkansas Rivers, which carry high volumes of traffic as well as major pipelines and communications lines. Figure 5-4 shows major damaged bridges that cross these rivers, which will impede emergency response and evacuation operations.

Water and Power Outages

Over a million households will be without water following a magnitude 7.7 earthquake in the NMSZ, with over 500,000 in Tennessee alone. Similarly, power outages are widespread, occurring in over 100 counties, and affecting approximately 2.5 million households (Figure 5-5).

The severity of utility damage and duration of disruption has a major impact on the number of households that will seek shelter following the scenario earthquake. In addition, water outages in population centers impede fire suppression.

Scenario Summary

The comprehensive earthquake impact assessment that was undertaken by the MAE Center in support of the New Madrid catastrophic planning initiative utilizes HAZUS and other advanced models to quantify economic loss, building and infrastructure damage, and social impacts. The results of the analysis characterize the catastrophic nature of a magnitude 7.7 earthquake in the NMSZ, and implications for response and recovery.

  • Economic losses approach $300 billion.
  • There is substantial damage to utility infrastructure, particularly in the impacted counties, leaving 2.6 million households without electricity and 1.1 million households without water after the event.
  • Major transportation corridors are interrupted by damage to key infrastructure. Extensive bridge and road damage limits the viable routes for transporting commodities and aiding evacuation efforts.
  • Damage to essential facilities will limit the response capabilities of fire, medical, law enforcement, and emergency management in the 140 counties that are most impacted.
  • Direct damage to over 700,000 buildings will generate significant US&R team requirements.
  • Inland road, rail, air and river travel in the Central U.S. will be severely impacted in the aftermath of the scenario event.
  • Over two million people will require temporary shelters after the event due to extended lack of utility services.
  • Waterways may become blocked with debris, reducing the viability of major shipping channels in the U.S., namely along the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, and Arkansas Rivers.

The results of the loss estimation studies provide FEMA and the states at risk with information that can be used to identify resource gaps and both strategic and tactical challenges to response and recovery from a catastrophic earthquake in the NMSZ.

PPD-8 Mission Area Support

The New Madrid Geospatial Timeline (Figure 5-6 and Figure 5-7) identifies high-level federal activities designed to support response and recovery to a catastrophic earthquake in the NMSZ. The geospatial activities (Figure 5-6 on page 88) are organized into three categories (Operations, Models, RS), and further grouped into the three overlapping key activities (Lifesaving, Damage Assessment, Recovery). The graphics included in this section (Figure 5-7 provide an overview of activities based on the following assumptions.

  • Each push pin represents a key support activity (coded 1-40) with an approximate beginning and end time.
  • Each Mission Area is represented by a horizontal platter extending to the right as defined by its operational duration.
  • Activities support multiple Mission Areas and are connected by a dashed line dropping to the next platter.
  • A significant number of federal activities are initiated concurrently within the first hours of the No-Notice event.
  • This graphic represents the “as-is” nature of these activities during this type of event.

The graphics are intended to align the key activities in the GeoCONOPS with core geospatial activities. This alignment illustrates the complexities and overlap of geospatial products and information during the initial 90 days following the NMSZ event.

The following sub-sections define many of the activities undertaken within the PPD-8 Mission Areas. Within each Mission Area, sample EEIs are provided for individual activities (see section 2.1.5 for background on EEIs). While EEI lists may be slightly unique to a specific functional area, facility, and/or event type, they generally share common themes and use similar titles regardless of their source. In all instances, EEIs are activity generated information; therefore, an activity could begin on day 1 while the information may not be available for another 36 hours.

Under the NRF, federal activities are undertaken by each of the 15 ESFs (see section 1.5 for background on the ESFs). With representation at the NRCC, RRCCs and each JFO, key ESF information is reported and shared across the community. The ESFs are responsible for the following functional areas:

  • ESF #1 – Transportation
  • ESF #2 – Communications
  • ESF #3 – Public Works and Engineering
  • ESF #4 – Firefighting
  • ESF #5 – Information and Planning
  • ESF #6 – Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing, and Human Services
  • ESF #7 – Logistics
  • ESF #8 – Public Health and Medical Services
  • ESF #9 – Search and Rescue (SAR)
  • ESF #10 – Oil and Hazardous Materials Response
  • ESF #11 – Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • ESF #12 – Energy
  • ESF #13 – Public Safety and Security
  • ESF #14 – Long-Term Community Recovery
  • ESF #15 – External Affairs

For reference, ESF definitions and descriptions are outlined in Section 1.5 of this document. Response Mission

The Response mission is time-critical and locally driven, with assets deployed and managed through NIMS and/or ICS. At the federal level, response resources are mobilized and deployed from across the country (as with any catastrophic event). Several factors in the New Madrid scenario directly impact the execution of Response missions: no warning, multi-state area of operations, continued aftershocks, and the potential damage and loss of functionality to communications systems. Combined, these factors generate and maintain high-levels of uncertainty across the lifesaving community, placing significant information requirement on the geospatial professionals supporting their efforts.

Many of the response activities overlap between missions as the information they provide is useful for many areas of the event. It is important to understand that the information acquired for a specific mission can and will be repurposed to support activities across the event. The ESFs, through their operations or the compilation of information reported by entities within their specific domain, are expected to provide much of the detailed information on the disaster event, fulfilling the requirements of the EEIs. Information supporting the Response Mission is categorized by EEI in Table 5–3.

Critical Transportation

Transportation infrastructure within the impacted area would be devastated. Following assessments of damages roads, bridges, rail lines, and airports, plans would be made for the transportation of relief workers and commodities. Major over-the-road routes would be repaired utilizing temporary solutions. Initially these routes may be closed to civilian vehicles to ensure assistance is available and that public safety is insured.

Airports would be repaired to accommodate military aircraft. Air traffic control systems would be down for some time, preventing commercial flights. Temporary military and/or contracted resources would control the airspace as commercial systems are brought on-line. Rotary aircraft would be required to meet many of the initial response and relief efforts. Temporary flight restrictions would also be in place.

Rail lines would be severely damaged and virtually useless in the hardest-hit areas of the region. The combination of transportation would be utilized to their potential to stock-pile resources and move staff and commodities into the area. As functional landing zones, airports, roads, and highways are identified, geospatial tools would assist in identifying and displaying these key transportation links and hubs.

Fatality Management Services

Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORT) operations begin in 24–36 hours to assist with the remains of non-survivors. Fatality management services are a byproduct of the situation and must be deployed early into the event. This mission requires the creation and maintenance of a business process and supporting database to collect, maintain, and retrieve information on the names of the deceased and the location of the recovery. This data is highly sensitive and is vital to meeting the aggressive requirements of the communities impacted.

Services would be set up by the local governments to assist families in locating the remains of their loved ones. Information collected through the DMORT process would be sanitized and made available to assist in these services. The details would be expected to include location recovered, date, time, and basic details on cause of death.

Infrastructure Systems

Infrastructure across the region would be significantly damaged. Initial response efforts would focus on stabilizing the high-hazard facilities and systems. Efforts to minimize the cascading effects of everything from nuclear facilities to failing dams would be undertaken. Spatial technologies would be used to identify and triage specific infrastructure targets for inspections and response activities.

Mass Care Services

The provision of critical food, shelter, and water is key in supporting the impacted communities across the NMSZ. Initial feeding options focus on low maintenance foods such as military-style Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and bottled water. As these commodities require delivery to shelters, households, and PODs across the region, geospatial tools can be used in conjunction with the American Red Cross and USACE methodologies to identify and prioritize requirements across the area of impact.

In this event, the demand for bottled water will be difficult to fill beyond the immediate deployment of available resources. Other solutions such as water trailers, tanker ships, and river-water processing options may provide the impacted communities with clean potable water. Geospatial methodologies are utilized to identify request locations and ingress/egress options based upon analysis of demographics and other dynamic critical factors.

As the NMSZ scenario results in an immense number of displaced households across a multi-state region, options and strategies for shelter provision are unique. Significant impediments to response to a New Madrid catastrophic earthquake include: accessibility to shelters, weather conditions, and major damage to water and power infrastructure. HAZUS, ShakeCast, and PAGER are among the geospatial tools available to support initial Shelter decision making. These spatial models provide estimates on populations requiring shelter, residential structure damage, and areas impacted all key elements in determining regional shelter requirements.

Shelters are typically operated by the American Red Cross, however, following this event shelters would also “stood-up” by organizations witnessing requirements as well as unorganized options occurring as people congregate after reaching a perceived safe zone. While the NSS maintains geospatial information on the activities of “official” shelters, the ad hoc shelters will require assistance and will be difficult to locate early into the event.

Many factors will determine the overall requirements for shelter facilities, including damage intensity, weather conditions, and the socio-economic profile of the impacted population. As specific needs are identified, there will be delays in getting resources into the damaged areas and difficulties in mobilizing enough commodities to support the event survivors. Additionally, emergency managers must factor the requirements of special needs populations in developing and executing shelter plans.

Formal evacuations for the New Madrid event would be minimal as there would be few places to accommodate the enormous volume of survivors. As the event response evolves, short and long-term options would become available in areas where they could be supported. Geospatial analysis would assist in determining appropriate locations based on population size, levels of damage, and local infrastructure.

Mass Search and Rescue Operations

The multi-state area of operations in a NMSZ scenario and the time-critical nature of SAR missions combine to heighten the importance of effectively utilizing geospatial tools to identify and prioritize the deployment of federal SAR assets. At the NRCC level, geospatial products will initially be focused at the impacted region and designed to develop strategic plans for the distribution of SAR resources.

SAR operations at the federal level are initiated immediately following the New Madrid event. Initial activation identifies teams for alert status and their availability for deployment to the area of operations. Single or multiple Incident Management Teams (IMT) provide direct geospatial support, with additional products coming from the NRCC, RRCCs, and other federal entities. Geospatial products utilized within the IMT support the development of strategic, operational, and tactical plans for the deployment of SAR teams.

US&R activities focus on the rescue of persons trapped in confined structures. GAs assist in determining areas with high probabilities of structural collapse and spatially locating communities reporting structural failures and/or trapped individuals. The Inland Search teams would assist communities with their efforts clearing rural communities and searching for unaccounted people outside collapsed structures. Water rescue teams are mobilized to assist in river rescue and within areas flooded by levee collapse or diversion of normal river courses.

On-scene Security and Protection

Public safety would be a significant issue across the areas heavily impacted by the earthquake. The local law enforcement staff would be struggling to support their professional duties as they are also victims of the event, having lost property and loved ones. Police forces would be pulled from the surrounding communities and would be augmented by National Guard forces.

Security for the responders would be required at multiple locations across the region. US&R teams would need protection as they would be operating in devastated communities. Temporary operation centers would require protection as well.
The demands of the event would immediately overwhelm the country’s law enforcement officers requiring contracted security to assist.

Public Health and Medical Services

Like SAR teams, medical teams with varying capacities are mobilized to treat potentially thousands of injured disaster survivors. Medical support includes standing-up temporary hospitals to support staff and patients displaced by damaged hospital facilities and to provide hospital services to address incident-related injuries. As potential sites need to be identified prior to the team and other resource deployments, GAs analyze all available information to identify suitable locations for these facilities.

Emergency evacuations from the field transport survivors to sites appropriate for rotor wing Landing Zones (LZ), vehicular, and foot traffic. These sites are needed throughout the region as survivors are rescued, triaged, and transported to locations inside and outside the impacted area. Sites need to accommodate both aircraft and over-road mechanisms of transportation. In order to support and sustain transportation activities, information such as access routes (ingress/ egress) and airspace closures will need to be updated frequently.

The Critical Medical Support mission requires large volumes of equipment and supplies for delivery to locations across the region. The nature of these shipments requires pre-planned transportation routes and an adequate level of security to ensure the commodities arrive at the locations where they are required.

The geospatial products available to support medical response planning in a catastrophic earthquake include HAZUS estimates of casualties from structural and bridge damage, and loss of functionality due to damaged medical facilities. Analyses are used to scale mission requirements and to identify areas with critical medical services requirements. Recovery Mission

In the New Madrid scenario, Response operations may last for 30 days and beyond, and will overlap greatly with Recovery activities. After 15–20 days, rescue efforts wind down as the focus transitions to medical, feeding, and sheltering support activities. The short-term recovery focuses aggressively on providing a core level of government services, sheltering of displaced households, and implementing measures to stabilize the situation. Information supporting the Recovery Mission is categorized by EEI in (Table 5–4 on page 95). The New Madrid Geospatial Timeline highlights the recovery activities for the first 90 days (Figure 5-8).

Public Information and Warning

Public information would be critical in the recovery phase of this event. The governments involved would need to explore all available options to ensure that messaging was reaching all survivors in the region. With most of the communication infrastructure damaged, citizens would revert to radio and antenna-based television to receive information on the event.

Outside the damaged area efforts would be in place to keep the country current on the situation and assist off-site citizens with connecting with their loved ones. Media resources would provide assistance with these tasks as a public service. Spatial analysis would help identify communities cut off from communications and monitor the theater for areas requiring special messaging options.

Economic Recovery

Economic Recovery efforts would be initiated with analysis exploring the magnitude of damage and the long-term consequences of the event. The direct activities associated with this effort would begin in the months that follow. The geospatial data collected and created during the response and recovery phases would all support the long-term economic recovery of the region.

Health and Social Services

Medical and health requirements would be significant following the earthquake. With many non-fatal injuries, the walking-wounded would be desperate to locate medical care to assist them. Much of the day-to-day medical facilities would be devastated and struggling to maintain care for their patients admitted prior to the event. Emergency rooms may be damaged beyond functionality or may simply be without power. With the large quantity of assistance requests across the region, geospatial analysis could assist in locating pending requests for staff, commodities, and power and build transportation routes between facilities.

Other social services would be required to assist in mental health and special needs populations. The geospatial staff would utilize damage severity and demographics to assist in identifying targeted populations and services. Other analysis would include estimates of casualties from structural and direct impact, routing, and potential locations for federal resources deployments. Analyses are used to scale mission requirements and to identify areas where critical medical services requirements are needed.


The IA Program is the government’s connection to the citizens impacted by disaster events. This program provides financial assistance for food, clothing, housing and other personal needs through government funds, voluntary agencies, and low interest loans.

Applicants for the FEMA IA program are required to call FEMA’s toll-free number from any location and provide their personal information in order to receive assistance for their personal losses. This process collects key information including damage address, mailing address, and physical address.

This location information enables ESF #6 to identify where the damage occurred and where applicants are currently located. In the days and weeks following the event, many individuals move to formal shelters, move in with family and friends outside of the damaged areas, or move to regions beyond the impacted area. These simple address fields support analyses to determine shelter needs, survivor re-population, and return options for the foreseeable future.

Housing inspections assess structures for habitability and estimate repair/replacement costs. Following a New Madrid scenario event, residential damages are expected to exceed the ability of inspectors to conduct visits to personal properties in a timely manner. Geospatial technology will be used to provide expedited financial assistance based on damage assessment data derived from imagery, models, and ground truth sources. This effort will focus on communities with the greatest impacts to assist in making immediate approval for applicants to receive financial assistance as quickly as possible.

The Emergency Housing programs are vital to the impacted communities. Options are available for long-term housing (1–2 years) in the form of rental assistance, hotel vouchers, shelter environments, and other alternatives. Unlike notice events, many individuals with the financial means to leave will be stranded in the area. Temporary shelters will meet the immediate requirements but cannot support housing beyond 30–60 days.

Infrastructure Systems

FEMA’s PA program is activated following the event. FEMA HQ plans for PA missions in support of multiple JFOs within each of the impacted states. As part of the PDA Teams, PA staff are deployed to the field to assess overall impacts, returning with reported data and maps. While these reports may not be geospatial in nature, their location information is analyzed for spatial content to derive their specific location incorporated into the event data holdings.

Communities in areas of highest earthquake intensity are expected to suffer significant losses to their infrastructure. Due to limitations in staff and resources immediately available for inspections, partial repairs will be required for critical public assets. These activities will include: repairing road damages for single lane travel, removing debris to clear single lanes of traffic, repairing levees and other water control structures, and constructing temporary routes around damaged transportation structures such as bridges and overpasses.

Under PA, the Debris mission will be challenging given the broad area of impact, anticipated damages, and loss of functionality to bridges and transportation systems. As sites need to be identified for interim storage and long-term disposal, geospatial analyses provide key information for selecting sites that are suitable for the PA activities. To assist in reducing to volume of debris material requiring removal, incinerators may be permanently sited and constructed.

The PA inspection teams visit project locations and collect detailed attribute information as well as photos of the damages and any temporary repair efforts to assist in the distribution of program funds. The data collected during the inspection process will feed into their databases to support the determination of eligibility and expense breakdowns. In addition, this information provides a source of ground-truth information useful in identifying the impacted areas, making general assessments by community, and satisfying the overwhelming requirements for information. As the PA program supports publicly owned facilities, the inspection data is not bound by the Privacy act and is useful to the public for many secondary purposes such as status monitoring and community recovery applications. Mitigation Mission

The aftermath of a damaging or catastrophic earthquake provides a window of opportunity for the implementation of mitigation measures that target essential facilities (police, fire, hospitals, shelters), businesses, residences, and lifelines (transportation and utilities). Mitigation measures—including the adoption of seismic provisions in building codes, seismic retrofits of buildings, and non-structural mitigation measures (e.g., fastening water heaters)—can improve the performance of buildings and contents in the next major event.

Post-earthquake investigations are coordinated through the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), under the direction of NIST and FEMA. These programs focus on building and lifeline performance in damaging earthquakes and utilize the findings to improve risk reduction practices. This analysis is also incorporated into Long-Term Community Recovery initiatives.

Residential building safety inspections are a critical post-earthquake function. Tens of thousands of residential structures will need to be evaluated to determine structural safety for re-habitation. Efficient building safety assessments will increase the supply of safe structures and reduce demand for housing assistance under the IA Program. FEMA’s Rapid Observation of Vulnerability and Estimation of Risk (ROVER) is an open source software application developed for the Earthquake Program that provides FEMA and other users with a database of structure that are vulnerable to earthquakes. ROVER can be used to prioritize and carry out post-event building safety evaluations, and facilitate the sharing of data in the field. This tool supplements and complements other building safety initiatives.

Information supporting the Mitigation Mission is categorized by ESF in (Table 5–5).

Long-term Vulnerability Reduction

Following the core response and recovery activities, mitigation programs will look to reduce the region’s vulnerabilities in future earthquake events. This effort will utilize geospatial information collected before, during, and after the event. Analysis will examine the communities, infrastructure, key resources, and lifelines within the region and look to define specific vulnerabilities and measures to reduce future physical and economic losses.

Spatial data and visualization will be critical in developing an understanding of the areas of interest and their interdependencies. Analytical tools will assist in modeling the long-term impacts of mitigation activities and project their benefits over time. Ultimately, plans will be developed by state or community to assist in achieving a measurable decrease in long-term vulnerability across the region.

Threat and Hazard Identification

Following the New Madrid earthquake, FEMA Mitigation would begin working with USGS and other earth science entities to determine any related threats and hazards in the near-future. These would include potential aftershocks and the impacts on other fault structures within the region with the potential to generate additional earthquake events.

Due to the enormous geographic area impacted by this event, LIDAR and other forms of imagery would be critical in identifying any physical changes to the earth such as uplifts, offsets, and subsidence. The collection missions would require coordination with federal and state responders and may need to be scheduled on regular intervals to monitor change over time. As specific areas of interest are identified, ground-based sensor systems could be installed to provide more detailed and immediate monitoring of the earth’s surface.

Another significant issue in the region would be the many rivers, lakes, and watercourses. The New Madrid event would cause rivers to drastically change courses, potentially re-routing through the built environment. The same elevation data collected in support of ground monitoring would allow for the initial development of new maps for the water features. This data would then be improved with detailed surveys. The potential for all river-based shipping to be disrupted is high due to collapsed bridges, river banks, and structures in addition to the changes in the rivers physical locations. The data derived from these efforts would be the first step in re-opening the rivers to shipping. Prevention Mission

The Prevention mission is focused on capabilities to avoid and prevent acts of terrorism and has no direct role in this scenario. Protection Mission

Protection mission activities address the capabilities to safeguard the citizens, residents, visitors, and critical assets, systems, and networks against all risks. While many of the capabilities are focused at terrorism-related efforts, natural events are supported as well. In this scenario, the overall impact to “normalcy” within the region will fracture the general safety and security measures expected to be available within our boarders.

Access Control and Identity Verification

Access control during this event would be required to protect citizens, relief workers, and critical assets. With the large area impacted, the resources required to support this capability would likely be brought in from areas outside the impacted area. Local law enforcement would be overwhelmed and additional security staff would be needed to prevent looting and general mayhem in within the communities. Residential areas may require basic government identification to gain access. The lack of available fuel sources would minimize civilian vehicle traffic in the weeks following the event while damaged and blocked roadways would further minimize driving options.

Relief workers would include government staff, contractors, and volunteers. Due to the magnitude of damage and the large geography impacted, access control will be difficult in the early days and weeks following the event. As relief efforts progress, it would be expected that areas around key resources, infrastructure, and communities may require specific credentials to access. Efforts would be made to ensure that access restrictions would not delay relief efforts in any way.

Key facilities would include specific infrastructure assets as well as the many temporary offices activated to lead relief efforts. On-site security for these facilities would require specific credentials and be closed to the general public. Security staff would be a combination of federal, local, and contracted employees to ensure the safety and security of the staff and facilities.

Geospatial support would include displaying protected facilities, assessing area security threats, maintaining boundaries of closed areas, and the identification of the entities responsible for undertaking the security measures. Coordination efforts around this information would be significant, as there would be many entities involved in the partnerships.

Physical Protective Measures

Following this event, many CI assets would become vulnerable to multiple outward threats. As security systems fail and infrastructure is damaged, opportunities arise for unauthorized access and associated issues. The CI portion of the response efforts would utilize imagery sources and inspection teams to identify specific vulnerabilities and ensure that they are secured as soon as able. While this responsibility falls onto the owners/operators, trumpery and long-term support would be required in many cases to ensure that the citizens and relief workers are protected against any threats.

Supply Chain Integrity and Security

Following this event supply chain integrity would be fractured and security would be an issue. The combined efforts of the government, private-sector, and volunteer agencies would require assistance and oversight to ensure that commodities are distributed across the region in an organized strategy. Initial requirements would be filled by government and military resources, with warehousing facilities residing on military bases and other government facilities. As the event progresses, commodities would be staged at commercial facilities and distributed through various means. Government-based resources would be tracked using GPS technologies to monitor locations and estimate arrival times. Private shipments may or may not require text-based or other reporting mechanisms to allow them to be managed in tandem.

Security measures would be in place to ensure that shipments are accomplished without interruption. As citizens become desperate, opportunities arise for commodity interception and re-routing. Physical facilities involved in the temporary supply chain will require security as well to ensure the safety of staff and the protection of stored resources.

Situational Awareness

Damage assessments provide a vital flow of information to the response community. In an event of this magnitude, communications technologies would be greatly impacted, limiting the ability of communities and citizens to request assistance or report on their status. Through the use of imagery, models, and ground truth data, the scale of the event and overall impact will be initially estimated and later validated (Table 5–6).

The data collected and compiled through Damage Assessment activities defines the locations and levels of magnitude of event-related impacts. The combination of imagery resources, models, and ground truth data provide rapid estimates and quantitative field observations to assist in making critical decisions in the early phases of the disaster response operation. In the New Madrid scenario, the multi-state area of impact will require a large volume of staff and an unusually long duration of inspections. In addition, the potential for aftershocks could complicate damage assessment missions as re-inspections will be required in response to aftershock events.

Imagery & Derived Products

Many challenges exist when supporting the imagery requirements for an event of this magnitude. Satellite-based imagery resources will be unaffected by the event; however, their ability to download data within the United States will be limited within the impacted area. This data will suffer minor delays in reaching the stakeholders at the field level due to basic connectivity issues such as: locally damaged infrastructure, operating in temporary facilities, and intermittent power outages.

Airborne resources will initially be delayed as the majority of aircraft required for these missions will be sent from outside the impacted area. Complications with aircraft-based sensors will include access to fuel, smoke and other airborne hazards, and, ultimately, the enormity of data collection required across the area.

While this section is focused on imagery, specific sensor and vendor information has not been included as similar sensors are available through multiple sources and technology is quickly evolving.

Satellite Imagery

Under the International Charter, all participating satellite platforms will be available to the United States government through FEMA as the coordinator. These resources satisfy high-level requirements for general damage assessment, including ground deformation, power outages, fires, and other key themes of information through provision of base imagery in several formats.

As impacted areas are defined in a general classification, higher resolution data is collected to further assess earthquake damage. The FEMA NRCC RS Coordinator collects information on locations that require/request assessments and assist in the triage to determine mission tasking and the balancing of available resources. This effort will require the tasking of satellite resources to move from large, course coverage areas to tighter and higher resolution imagery collections thus removing these assets from the broader collection mission.

The Response Mission will require high resolution and spatially accurate data products to support their emergency activities. In the absence of field reports, ingress routes to target locations can be determined with proper imagery data and analysis. In addition, the areas around these targets will be visible and support mission planning for landing zones, base camp selections, and other geographies requiring SAR teams.

At 3–5 days into the response operations, imagery dissemination will be problematic. The broad area of impact will generate proportional data volumes of available imagery to supply the multitude of waiting customers. With network communications hindered across the region, other options will be pursued for sharing both imagery and derived products across the response community.

Airborne Imagery

Aircraft will serve as the second wave of imagery sources and provide the high-resolution products required for assessments of individual structures and systems. The airborne mission will have a slow start-up, as resources are deployed from outside the impacted area. With FEMA coordinating RS activities, it is imperative that ESF-based functions are engaged with the NRCC to identify their requirements and report their geospatial activities. For entities operating under their own authorities, airborne missions will be directed and funded by the responsible parties.

Lifesaving missions will benefit greatly from the increased resolution and coverage these platforms provide. In addition to color imagery, aircraft can also provide the following:

  • LIDAR – to assist in determining elevation changes that impact ingress and structures
  • IR (thermal) – sensors identify fires and ground-based hazardous releases
  • Oblique – providing a side view allowing for determinations of structure damage and habitability
  • Full Motion Video – feed EOCs with real-time video of impacted areas.

In addition to the urgent need to assist in recovery, public safety and force protection will require high levels of data collection in strategic areas to maintain law and order in the region. Oblique imagery further supports these efforts as it provides the ability to view the sides of buildings to further assess individual structures and to determine locations suitable for rebuilding the law enforcement communities across the region.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) also have a significant role in the NMSZ event as imaging resources will be required in many areas across the geography. UAVs are provided by both government and private companies to assist in the damage assessment imagery mission. To mitigate legal concerns with the use of these aircraft, event-specific policies and guidance must be required before these resources can be fully utilized.

Mission Overlap

In some situations, satellite imagery and aircraft imagery are competing resources in the form of multiple platforms with similar instrumentation. With an event of this magnitude, a strategy will be developed to make best use of the available assets and ensure that efforts are not duplicated. Satellite solutions will provide the early sources of imagery followed by airborne systems as the requirements transition from regional to local views.

Close coordination will be required between FEMA and the multitude of federal, state, and local partners. Efforts will be made to ensure that there are multiple uses for all imagery collected and that these data will be available to everyone with requirements to access it.


Imagery alone cannot be the single data source for situational awareness, as in most cases it only provides background information. The greatest return on imagery investment is on derived imagery. IDPs expand on basic imagery by including simple attributes (e.g., destroyed, flooded, fire) as well as more detailed information (e.g., degree of damage, damage type, estimated water depth). These IDPs are developed based on customer requirements and vary greatly across the stakeholder community. In many cases, IDP requirements can be combined into a single analytical request and provided to several customers.

As the executive agent for RS Coordination, FEMA has a role in coordinating the IDPs as well. With every specific data collection requirement, IDP development must be part of the deliverable regardless of the source. As IDP data will be utilized in briefings, map products, and web viewers across the country, it is imperative that information does not conflict and that sources are properly and easily defined.


The dissemination of imagery for the New Madrid event will be difficult as the data volumes generated over the impacted area will quickly exceed the capabilities of existing systems to provide storage and delivery. As the authoritative agent for data compilation and dissemination of imagery-based data, the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Data Center will be the federal hub of post-event data. In addition, the providers (government or commercial) can be expected to serve data to the stakeholders as allowed by data licenses. Third-party distribution options will be provided through various public and private internet-based spatial environments.

The sharing of vector data sets will be closely coordinated as IDPs are easily transmitted across the community and must have adequate metadata to ensure they are used correctly and kept current. As multiple sources compile similar data for different geographies these localized data will be rolled up by theme to support big-picture views and seamless coverage for coordination efforts at all levels.


The modeling communities begin work immediately following the New Madrid event and provide updates as improved information is available and/or following aftershocks in the region. These applications play an important role in the first 12 to 24 hours following a major or catastrophic earthquake, when detailed and accurate damage assessments are unavailable. SME analysis of the modeling methodologies and outputs play a critical role in interpreting the data and identifying proper use of the analyses to support damage assessment and lifesaving activities.

HAZUS, PAGER, ShakeCast, ShakeMap and other impact assessment applications will provide analyses immediately following the event. The outputs of these geospatial models provide initial parameters of the areas of impact and estimated damage. These are used in conjunction with field assessments to delineate the area of operations and the nature and scope of damage. Other modeling activities will include:

  • The USACE will begin to assess the region for debris-related requirements as well as water and ice missions.
  • The Earth Science communities will arrive to assess geologic phenomenon to ground-truth their models.
  • IMAAC will perform assessments on airborne hazards following the event and provide authoritative information on them.

Each of these models provides an output product consisting of combinations of reports, maps, and geospatial data. These geospatial-based products are vital in sharing the results with the stakeholder community. Users require complete metadata to ensure proper use of the data and to ensure that updates are acquired and presented to their customers.

The modeling communities produce many similar products, which may be applicable to more than one mission. The geospatial products will have subtle differences, and interpretations of results should be supported by SMEs, including authoritative sources for the subject domain.

Field Data Collection

Imagery and models provide key data for early operations and can be used in conjunction with field information to provide improved situational awareness, complementing on-ground damage assessments and field data collection. Data from the field is critical to supporting multiple federal and state lifesaving, damage assessment, and Recovery Missions. The inclusion of field data also lends credibility to imagery derived and modeled data feeds. Field data collection activities will include:

  • Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) – Federal interagency team
  • Rapid Needs Assessment (RNA) – Federal and state interagency team
  • PA Inspection Teams – Federal and state interagency team
  • American Red Cross Inspection Teams – Paid and volunteer staff
  • IA PDA Teams – Federal and state interagency team

These and other field data sources provide additional perspectives into the reality of the field. While most of the data collected is done to support specific operational authorities, the data can be easily repurposed in support of the Damage Assessment mission.

Frequently, inspection teams for different programs travel independently creating a level of duplication in data collected and creating low-level confusion amongst the home and property owners who must provide access to multiple groups at different dates/times. These data can be quickly linked and compiled to determine key trends in impact and/or losses.

Updated on October 29, 2018