Hurricane Sandy: Preparing for Emergency With Data Analysis


Direct Relief has stepped up efforts to understand the needs of our safety-net health center partners and ready our logistical systems for the possibility of large-scale emergency health needs. At 7 p.m. Sunday, New York City went to full alert in preparation for the imminent landfall of Hurricane Sandy forecasted to arrive Monday evening. At that time, the subway system was shut down and residents living in evacuation zone A, nearest to the water, were advised to evacuate their homes for higher ground further inland.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) storm surge probability model read that the likelihood of a coastal surge exceeding six feet in the immediate vicinity of the five boroughs was nearing a range between 50 – 60 percent.  Red Cross and city hurricane shelters lit up across the map, anticipating thousands upon thousands of persons seeking refuge from the storm.

Within the area in and closely situated around the evacuation zones shown on this map, Direct Relief supports the ongoing work of 54 clinics, health centers, and other public health institutions. New York City maintains three evacuation zones, graded from zone A in red, recommended for mandatory evacuation, to zones B and C in yellow and green which have not yet received such advisories.

Throughout Hurricane Sandy, Direct Relief will provide essential insight through a comprehensive overview of emergency response and public-health events of specific relevance to the primary healthcare safety net and the people seeking care at safety-net facilities. Direct Relief is in the process of integrating and analyzing additional datasets, along with our technology partners at Palantir, include near-real-time open source epidemiological alerts from; shelter locations dynamically updated from the Red Cross and other government agencies; storm activity alerts from NOAA and the National Weather Service; the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster response and evacuation route data; and local agency reports and crowdsourced feeds as they become available and news reporting.

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