Missouri Guard uses Geographic Information System to track debris removal progression in Joplin

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Sgt. Brandon Wolfe, geographical information systems, TF Phoenix, is performing a 3-D assessment of the debris cleanup progression throughout the operational cells.
(Photo by Sgt. Lindsey M. Frazier, 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Public Affairs)


By Sgt. Lindsey M. Frazier

JOPLIN, Mo. -It may be hard to imagine how much debris has been removed from areas devastated in and around Joplin or Duquesne, but the Missouri National Guard Task Force Phoenix - tasked with supervising the clean-up and removal process can show just how much progress has been made. In tracking the progression, a GIS map goes green as a parcel of land is clear and progress is being made.

"The maps are geographical representations of the area affected by the tornado," said Sgt. Brandon Wolfe, geospatial engineer, with Task Force Phoenix. "It helps us track the progression of the debris removal."

The Missouri National Guard geographic information system team drives through communities collecting data as the debris removal process continues. As land is cleared, Missouri Guardsmen document it on a map where the cumulative data is then gathered and uploaded to produce debris assessment maps.

"We drive the same sectors everyday to document changes," said Sgt. Jennifer Shepherd, Task Force Phoenix. "This way we can see what stage the property is in."

Each parcel on the map will get a letter to determine what needs to be done to the property. When the property is clear and has no discrepancies, it goes from red to green

"We're looking for many different factors in deciding what the property needs to be classified as," said Sgt. Troy Smith, TF Phoenix. "It could be a tree, a stump that needs to be removed, demolition, debris or rubble."

This on-going mission is important to show the progress of the debris removal process and track where resources should be focused.

"The ability to graphically and visually observe database information allows us to more quickly and accurately analyze the status of the operation," said Col. William A. Ward, TF Phoenix commander.

Printed maps of the GIS information are shared with agency partners and the local governments weekly in order to keep them abreast of the rapidly changing situation and so they can aid in keeping the public informed of the progress.

"The GIS allows us to share a common operating picture with all our partner agencies. FEMA, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the City of Joplin, and the Guard utilize the system to track the progress of debris removal and associated information, such as rights of entry, nuisance properties, and demolition," explained Ward.

"As we approach the 7 August deadline for expedited debris removal, knowing where to target the debris removal operations will be critical to minimizing costs to the local governments and the State of Missouri."

The GIS operation will continue until the National Guard services are no longer required for debris removal. The date will be dictated by actual debris removal progress.


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