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Hurricane Wilma: Ten Years Later

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 10/22/2015 - 15:55

ATLANTA -- Ten years ago October 24, Hurricane Wilma slammed ashore near Naples, Fla., as a Category 3 storm with a 50-mile-wide eye. Wilma was the most intense hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin, with wind speeds reaching 175 mph over the Gulf of Mexico.

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Floods in South Carolina Set 17 USGS Streamgage Records

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 10/22/2015 - 15:13
Summary: During the historic October 2015 floods in South Carolina, 17 U.S. Geological Survey streamgages recorded the highest peak streamflow and/or river height (or stage) since those streamgages were installed. An additional 15 USGS streamgages recorded peaks in the top 5 for their periods of record

Contact Information:

Toby Feaster ( Phone: 864-656-6747 ); John Shelton ( Phone: 803-750-6112 ); Vic Hines ( Phone: 813-855-3125 );



During the historic October 2015 floods in South Carolina, 17 U.S. Geological Survey streamgages recorded the highest peak streamflow and/or river height (or stage) since those streamgages were installed. An additional 15 USGS streamgages recorded peaks in the top 5 for their periods of record.

One of these streamgages, located on the Black River at Kingstree, South Carolina, recorded its largest peak in the 87 years it has existed. The streamgage showed that the Black River reached a peak streamflow of 83,700 cubic feet per second and a stage of 22.65 feet. The previous maximum on the Black River occurred on June 14, 1973. Additional annual peak stage data collected by the National Weather Service at the gauge prior to USGS operation indicates this is likely the highest flood since 1893.

"This was absolutely an historic flood for South Carolina," said John Shelton, the USGS hydrologist who oversaw the agency’s field response and gauging operations in South Carolina. "Throughout the event we continued to monitor our network of about 170 real-time streamgages, and we sent dozens of teams out in the field to verify what we were seeing. Fortunately, we have quite a few long-standing streamgages in South Carolina, so we can put these floods into historical context."

One of the longest-running streamgages in South Carolina is the one on the Congaree River in Columbia, with annual records back to 1892 and even flood information for 1852. That means that there are 123 years of record to place the October 2015 floods into perspective.

The USGS streamgage on the Congaree River at Columbia peaked at 185,000 cubic feet per second at a peak stage of 31.8 feet on October 4, 2015. When compared to the historical flood record, this peak ranks eighth out of 123 years of record with the peak of record being 364,000 cubic feet per second at a peak stage of 39.8 feet on August 27, 1908. 

However, the October 2015 flood on the Congaree River is the highest since April 8, 1936, when the river peaked at 231,000 cubic feet per second at a peak stage of 33.3 ft.

For comparison, an Olympic-sized swimming pool contains 88,000 cubic feet, so the October 4, 2015, peak on the Congaree River at Columbia would fill a little over two Olympic-sized swimming pools every second.

Throughout the entire flood, the USGS deployed nearly 100 people who collected almost 250 distinct streamflow measurements in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia; deployed and recovered storm-tide sensors and Rapid-Deployment Gauges; and flagged and determined the elevation of close to 600 high-water marks in support of response and recovery missions for FEMA.  The effort, led by the USGS South Atlantic Water Science Center, which has offices in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, was supported by teams from other USGS offices in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Pennsylvania.

A total of 8 streamgages were destroyed or damaged during the floods in South Carolina, with five replaced with Rapid-Deployment Gauges within hours of the gauge outage.

In South Carolina, the teams made about 140 streamflow measurements at about 86 real-time streamgages to verify or update existing information on streamflow at that site. This information, along with a comparison of historic peak flows or stages and a chronology of major flood events in South Carolina since 1893, is available in a new USGS report entitled "Preliminary Peak Stage and Streamflow Data at Selected USGS Streamgaging Stations for the South Carolina Flood of October 2015."

Media Availability to tour FEMA Manufactured Housing Unit

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 10/22/2015 - 14:46

Installation of seven Manufactured Housing Units underway

Who: California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

What: Media members will have an opportunity to tour one of the manufactured housing units Cal OES and FEMA are installing in Calaveras and Lake counties to provide temporary housing for eligible survivors of the Butte and Valley wildfires. 

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Categories: Federal News

Disaster Recovery Center Opens in Calhoun County to Help South Carolina Flood Survivors

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 10/22/2015 - 12:19

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A disaster recovery center is open in St. Matthews to help South Carolina flood survivors. This Calhoun County center is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

Representatives from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration and other agencies are at the center to answer questions about disaster assistance and low-interest loans. They can also help survivors apply for aid.

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Categories: Federal News

Three Years after Sandy: New Jersey’s Private Sector Continues the Work of Recovery

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 10/21/2015 - 11:00

EATONTOWN, N.J. -- The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy left survivors and businesses in New Jersey with large-scale recovery needs. In the three years since, the state’s private sector has made significant contributions to strengthen recovery efforts.

Immediately after Sandy struck, Private Sector specialists with FEMA’s External Affairs division deployed to New Jersey to work with chambers of commerce, industry associations, individual companies, colleges and universities, the medical industry and other organizations.

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA aid reaches $16.9 billion for New York’s Hurricane Sandy Recovery

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 10/21/2015 - 10:44

NEW YORK – FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration have disbursed nearly $16.9 billion for New York’s recovery since Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the East Coast three years ago. This amount includes more than $1 billion paid directly to survivors for housing and other essential needs through the Individuals and Households Program which ended April 30, 2014.

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New Model Improves Predictions for How Climate Change Will Affect Fish Habitat

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 10/21/2015 - 08:58
Summary: A new approach by U.S. Geological Survey scientists to modeling water temperatures resulted in more realistic predictions of how climate change will affect fish habitat by taking into account effects of cold groundwater sources.

Contact Information:

Craig Snyder ( Phone: 304-724-4468 ); Nathaniel Hitt ( Phone: 304-724-4463 ); Hannah Hamilton ( Phone: 703-648-4356 );



A new approach by U.S. Geological Survey scientists to modeling water temperatures resulted in more realistic predictions of how climate change will affect fish habitat by taking into account effects of cold groundwater sources.

The study, recently published in the journal Ecological Applications, showed that groundwater is highly influential but also highly variable among streams and will lead to a patchy distribution of suitable fish habitat under climate change.  This new modeling approach used brook trout, but can be applied to other species that require coldwater streams for survival.

"One thing that has been missing from other models is the recognition that groundwater moderates the temperature of headwater streams," said Nathaniel Hitt, a fish biologist and study coauthor. "Our paper helps to bring the effects of groundwater into climate change forecasts for fish habitat."

Climate change models predict that summer air temperatures will increase between 2.7 and 9 degrees Fahrenheit in the eastern United States over the next 50 to 100 years. Such increases in air temperatures will increase water temperatures of streams and rivers and pose a significant threat to fish like brook trout that have low resistance to warming water temperatures. 

Brook trout are an important cultural and recreational species with specific restoration outcomes identified in the new Chesapeake Bay Agreement.

However, how these global and regional predictions regarding a changing climate translate to water temperatures in specific streams or stream reaches, a process called “downscaling”, remains an important and challenging question for scientists and natural resource managers.

Previous efforts to downscale global and regional estimates of air temperature change down to water temperatures in individual streams and river networks have relied on the assumption that the exchange of heat between the water and the surrounding air is the primary driver of water temperature within an individual section of a stream. However, the exchange of heat between cold groundwater and warmer surface water can also be very important, especially in headwater streams where the volume of water is relatively small.

"Our models help improve the spatial resolution of climate change forecasts in headwater streams," said Craig Snyder, a USGS research ecologist and lead author of the study. "This work will assist conservation and restoration efforts by connecting climate change models to places that matter for stream fishes."

The study is available online:  Snyder, C.D., N.P. Hitt, and J.A. Young. 2015. Accounting for groundwater in stream fish thermal habitat responses to climate change. Ecological Applications 25:1397-1419.

CNMI provides free fax options for Soudelor survivors

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 10/21/2015 - 02:04

SAIPAN, CNMI – Typhoon Soudelor survivors on Saipan who need to get documents to the Federal Emergency Management Agency have several places where they can do so free of charge.

When the joint CNMI/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Susupe closed earlier this month, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands began arranging locations that would provide this service to survivors. That list currently stands at four:

Saipan Mayor’s Office

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Mitigation updates its Outreach schedule

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 10/21/2015 - 00:04

SAIPAN, CNMI – FEMA Mitigation Outreach specialists are updating their schedule.

They are currently at Do-It-Best Hardware in Chalan Kiya, meeting with customers and providing booklets and pamphlets on how to build back stronger to be safer in the next storm. They are in the store from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, and will continue there through Friday, Oct. 23.

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Washington Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 10/20/2015 - 22:09

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Washington.

Assistance for the State, Tribal and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

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Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for Washington

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 10/20/2015 - 22:03

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Washington and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the area affected by wildfires and mudslides during the period of August 9 to September 10, 2015.

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California Disaster Recovery Centers change operational hours

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 10/20/2015 - 18:11

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Cal OES are altering the schedules of Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in Calaveras and Lake counties, with two Mobile Disaster Recovery Centers closing permanently.

Starting this weekend the DRC hours of operation will be:

Monday – Friday:                               8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Saturday:                                             9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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A Century of Induced Earthquakes in Oklahoma?

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 10/20/2015 - 15:51
Summary: The rate of earthquakes has increased sharply since 2009 in the central and eastern United States, with growing evidence confirming that these earthquakes are primarily caused by human activity, namely the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells

Contact Information:

Donyelle Davis ( Phone: 626-202-2393
 );



Cimmarron River bed operations in Cushing Oil Field, Oklahoma, Looking Southwest. Creek County, Oklahoma. December 2, 1915. Panorama in two parts. / USGS archive Photo. (High resolution image)

The rate of earthquakes has increased sharply since 2009 in the central and eastern United States, with growing evidence confirming that these earthquakes are primarily caused by human activity, namely the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells.  A new study by the U.S Geological Survey released today presents evidence that, in addition to these recent earthquakes, most of the larger earthquakes in Oklahoma in the past century may likely have been induced by industrial activities.

This study explores the especially high rates of activity in Oklahoma, the background rate of natural earthquakes in the state and how much the earthquake rate has varied through the 20th century.  

"In Oklahoma, seismicity rates since 2009 far surpass previously observed rates at any time during the 20th century," said Susan Hough, USGS seismologist and lead author of the study.  "Several lines of evidence further suggest that most of the significant earthquakes in Oklahoma during the 20th century may also have been induced by oil production activities. Deep injection of waste water, now recognized to potentially induce earthquakes, in fact began in the state in the 1930s."

The study uses archival reports at the Library of Congress and drill permit records showing the location of wells from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to track how wastewater injection evolved over time, with an increase around 1950 due to a rise in secondary oil recovery in response to  increasing depletion of fields.

"Waste water injection has a strong correlation to the increase in earthquakes," said Morgan Page, USGS seismologist and co-author of the study. "The results further demonstrate that, while the rates seen in recent years are unprecedented, induced earthquakes are likely nothing new in Oklahoma."

Oil production in Oklahoma has been going on for over 100 years.  Some activities related to oil production, particularly disposal of wastewater in deep injection wells, are known to potentially cause earthquakes.  Prior to the 2011 magnitude 5.7 Prague, Oklahoma earthquake, the largest historical earthquake in the area was the 1952 magnitude 5.7 El Reno earthquake, which the study concludes was likely induced by activities related to oil production near Edmond, Oklahoma. 

The complete research paper, "A Century of Induced Earthquakes in Oklahoma?" by Susan E. Hough and Morgan Page was released online in the journal Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.