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TLS Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy Responds to Rising River Floods

May 23, 2011

Due to the on-going Mississippi River flooding across America, Tulane University Law School's Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA), an academic program within the Payson Center for International Development, has launched a Louisiana Flood Disaster Resilience Watch dedicated to the collection, monitoring, analysis, reporting and diffusion of strategic information that accents immediate needs with a long term and sustained focus on building resilience. To document the current crisis, the DRLA is maintaining a Louisiana Flood Map online, where residents in flood-affected areas of Louisiana can post real-time information about how the disaster is impacting their communities.

“The purpose of the map is to empower citizens of flood-affected Louisiana to speak out about how the flood is affecting their lives and livelihoods, their communities and the environment,” said Ky Luu, executive director of the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy.

The interactive website, which uses the open source Ushahidi crisis mapping software, collects and displays news entries, voice messages, photographs, and short videos, which residents report via phone, e-mail, and various new media platforms and social networks such as Twitter and YouTube. Issues relate to flooded property, public safety, water levels, pollution, health effects, volunteer information, and resources for flood protection and recovery. All reports are screened, categorized, geolocated, rendered, and made available to the public online in chronological and categorized lists.

As data is compiled and posted throughout the devastation, policy makers, engineers, activists, and citizen responders will have a comprehensive, interactive tool to assess the overall impact of the flooding. The goal is that in the future, residents of Louisiana and surrounding regions will be able to develop a better repose to deal with flooding along Mississippi River.

How to Report:
-By sending a message to 702-582-5378
-By sending an email to: lafloodmap@drlatulane.org 
-By sending a tweet with the hashtag: #lafloodmap
-By filling this form
-With your iPhone, iPad or Android device

The site is similar to the Oil Spill Crisis Map the DRLA created with the environmental advocacy group Louisiana Bucket Brigade to track the effects of the 2010 Gulf oil spill. That map generated more than 3,400 reports ranging from spotting oiled wildlife to opportunities for community organizing.

“With crisis mapping we have the possibility of getting reports from anyone who notices a problem whether it’s on the ground, from the air or via a satellite,” says DRLA co-director Nancy Mock. “We can get better insights in to the effects of disasters because the information comes from those affected by crises in near real time."

In addition to the current rising Mississippi River and last year’s Deepwater Horizon catastrophes, the DRLA has launched disaster recovery platforms particularly relevant to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake of Jan. 2010 in Haiti, the 8.8 magnitude earthquake of Feb. 2010 in central Chile, the Aug. 2010 floods in Pakistan, the 9.0 magnitude quake and tsunami that devastated Japan (March 2011- ), and the recent May 2011 tornadoes and severe weather across southern United States.


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