Imagery ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0. Flood waters in Sorrento, Louisiana. Image captured August 17, 2016.

Imaging Louisiana’s Historic Flooding

In mid-August 2016, a massive storm hit southern Louisiana, causing record flooding. Over a dozen people lost their lives to the floods, and analysts estimate over $30 million in damage—making this the largest US disaster since Hurricane Sandy.

First responders on the ground and crisis mappers online are mapping the flooding’s extent in real-time. From space, NASA’s Earth Observatory mapped IMERG rainfall data over three days:

Image: NASA Earth Observatory. Data collected August 12–14

Frequent satellite imagery reveals flooding on the ground. Outside the town of Henderson, Louisiana, the sediment-filled water of the Atchafalaya River flows into Lake Bigeaux. Waters fills the surrounding flood channels and floodplains on the outskirts of the town:

Imagery ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0. Before image captured April 23, 2016. After image captured August 16, 2016.

From Henderson, if we travel about 70 miles eastward, we reach the town of Sorrento, Louisiana—a community that experienced extreme flooding. During the storm, waters inundated flood channels and overflowed into Sorrento:

Imagery ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0. Before image captured June 25, 2016. After image captured August 17, 2016.

As the massive recovery effort begins, satellites in space and planes in the air will continue to monitor southern Louisiana in an effort to help the region’s long, expensive clean-up and recovery process.

Learn more about satellite imagery’s role in disaster response and recovery.