10-year commemoration to bring new tools, storm surge markers

By: Tracie Sempier / Published: Aug 21,  2015

With the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina coming up next week, the Coast has been bustling. There are ceremonies planned to commemorate the progress of communities, media requests from around the country, book signings, fund-raising activities and even a planned visit from former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

One non-profit organization is using the anniversary event as an opportunity to promote its new risk finder tool. Surging Seas is a searchable web-based tool that displays populations, infrastructure and assets exposed to coastal flooding. The tool shows visual displays of how sea level rise will exacerbate flooding by allowing the user to create future scenarios. Users can explore risk exposure by ZIP code at city, county and state levels.

According to Dan Rizza with Climate Central they “built the Surging Seas web tool to help communities, planner, and leaders better understand sea level rise and coastal flood risks -- and to provide planners with a communication tool. It is a national tool with localized analysis, as well as sea level and flood risk projections.”

The tool uses NOAA elevation, tide gauge, and projection data and allows you to print analysis reports from various projections you select. Coastal communities can access the tool at

New tools are not the only thing to be unveiled. In the commotion of the coming weeks, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant will proudly be a part of ceremonies across the Coast focusing on flood awareness. We have been working closely with Mississippi coastal communities on an event that will showcase the new High Water Mark signs that are being placed in 18 locations across three counties.

The plaques are dedicated to bring awareness to the storm surge and high water levels from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Camille. In an earlier blog, I highlighted the first ceremony of its kind in the City of Orange Beach, Alabama. In Mississippi, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has partnered with our local Coastal Hazards Outreach Strategy Team and, for the first time, is sponsoring a series of signs across several communities.

This is a significant step for communities effected by Katrina. We often forget that it is still painful for many to relive the events from 10 years ago. With all the media hype and high-profile events planned, it would seem the Coast is celebrating. In reality, we are still healing. Much progress has been made, but any local floodplain manager can tell you, there is much left to do. That is why our role as extension agents is so important. As local residents ourselves, we can empathize with the realities of past events and work closely with our local communities to strategically plan for a better future.

The High Water Mark unveiling events across the Coast will be an appropriate tribute to the past 10 years, as well as a reminder of our responsibility for the next 10 (and beyond).



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