In response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association's (URISA) GISCorps was asked again to provide GIS volunteers to the affected areas.
This time the request was for nine additional volunteers to function as map production specialists. A few of the volunteers are now stationed at the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) in Jackson, Mississippi, and several were deployed to five other county EOC offices (in Stone, Pearl River, Jackson, Hancock, and Harrison counties) on the Mississippi coast line. This group's average years of experience is about ten years and they come from Colorado, Arkansas (2), Texas (2), Alabama, Washington DC, Illinois, and Kentucky.
Cragin Knox, Administrator for the Mississippi Coordinating Council for RS/GIS, recently recognized the contributions of the GISCorps volunteers: "... express my sincerest thanks for the efforts of the GISCorps volunteers tasked to the Mississippi recovery program. You can not imagine how much better things are beginning to function (from a GIS standpoint) here at the MEMA Command Center."
Most of the first group of deployed volunteers, who were in Jackson by Thursday, September 1, have returned home and are reflecting on their experiences:
- "Saving lives by volunteering using skills that few people have gives volunteering a whole new meaning. I never thought GIS could mean so much until after this mission!" Matt Cieri, City of Kissimmee, FL
- "The most satisfying one week of my life!" Sanjeev Arya, GeoDecisions, IL
- "I went to Mississippi to do what I could to help and I feel very fortunate and honored to have been able to assist the GISCorps in its worthy mission. But I think I received way more than I gave. I am very thankful for the experience and even more appreciative of all my blessings and my fellow humans." Leeanne Pacatte, City of Austin, Texas
For more volunteer reactions and information from the second deployment, visit http://www.urisa.org/katrina2.htm