On June 21st, 2011 a major storm hit the Chicago land area causing
severe damage to trees, cars and homes. Winds speeds were measured
near 80 mph, two F1 tornadoes were reported and thousands of people were
left without out power. Many of the small municipalities in the area
were left with no other options but to put their Public Works Department
crews out on the streets to start the cleanup process.
Considering much of the time during this period was spent on the
cleanup, it became hard for any local municipality to reflect on the
catastrophic event and how much damage occurred overall. In Morton
Grove, IL the Engineering Department decided to run a pilot program to
track what they could of the storm’s damage and then store the data
gathered in the field within their Geographical Information System
(GIS). The purpose of this pilot was to see how easy or hard it would
be to collect this information in the field and then map out in a format
that would be easy to use by others within the Village staff.
The process was actually quite simple and consisted of the Village
Engineer driving through areas that were reported as bad and recording
these major damaged locations on a paper map as well as taking
photographs of each site. Once back in the office, the map and photos
were submitted to the GIS Department to be converted into digital data
with hyperlinks to the photos that were stored on a central server.
Information that may once be forgotten is now stored in the GIS and can
be distributed to several users at one time. Additionally, this
information can now be used in comparison with future storm events
making it an excellent resource for analysis.