Disaster Relief Imaging

Destroyed Highway 90 bridge in Biloxi, MI. Photo courtesy NOAA

An unanticipated outgrowth of the Global Connection Project was to offer immediate aerial and satellite imaging support to disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.

By adapting an automated process developed to overlay National Geographic aircraft fly-over images onto Africa for educational purposes, the Global Connection Project team stitched 7,900 post-disaster NOAA fly-over images onto Google Earth satellite imagery on the Gulf Coast.  By accessing Google Earth through the Internet, disaster responders were then able to better plan rescue and recovery efforts while displaced residents accessed detailed and recent imagery regarding their neighborhoods.


To view the NOAA aerial photography of flooding and structures damaged by Hurricane Katrina, please click on Katrina dynamic overlay. This link should download a file and automatically bring up Google Earth (if not, see the help below).

How to use:

  • Colored outlines on the coast of Louisiana / Mississippi show where to zoom in to find aerial photography (the colors indicate which day the images are from)
  • Zoom in far enough to see streets and buildings, then wait. The overlay will automatically load the picture closest to your view.
  • In the upper left of the screen, you'll see details about when the picture was taken, and what resolution the picture is being displayed at in Google Earth.
  • If the current picture is shown at less than full resolution, you can zoom in closer to see more detail.


  • You must have installed the Google Earth application to use this overlay. It's a free download from earth.google.com.
  • If clicking on the Katrina dynamic overlay link above doesn't bring up Google Earth, you can save the katrina-dynamic-outlines-netlink.kml file and then manually run Google Earth. Go to File / Open and open this file manually.
  • You have to stop panning or zooming for a moment to let the overlay update

For more information, including overlays for Hurricanes Rita and Wilma, please browse to http://gc.cs.cmu.edu/noaa/.