How Mapping Disasters Can Help Devastated Communities Rally

Stateline: NEW ORLEANS — On Meredith Beers’ laptop, the intensity of the twister that touched down here in February is marked in green, yellow and red.

The colors illustrate light, medium and heavy damage from the 150-mile winds that tore through the city’s Ninth Ward. Beers and her colleagues at SBP, a nonprofit that specializes in rebuilding homes after disasters, are experimenting with a digital mapping technique that allows them to assess the damage to each home and cross that information with data about insurance and federal financial assistance.

The goal: to get help to the most desperate residents far more quickly — a task that may grow more urgent in the years ahead.

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