Monday, December 27, 2004

New DEP Web Site

Just before Christmas, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced it is launching a new web site with 'before and after' "video clips and photographs of Florida’s shoreline from spring 2004 and in the aftermath of Hurricanes Frances, Ivan and Jeanne... ." The videos are intended to help "disaster relief personnel, property owners, realtors, insurance agents and coastal planners... assess coastal damage to assist in the recovery process."

Also available is a 64-page damage assessment of Hurricane Ivan. The report is in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format. You can directly access it by clicking here.

The web site was made possible by DEP engineers and managers who --
assessed erosion along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts following the summer storms. Engineers completed close to 1,000 hours of aerial and ground assessments across 25 coastal counties, shooting 76 hours of video and more than 5,200 still photographs to document hurricane damage to the state’s famed beaches, sandy dunes and coastal communities. Collected data was used to develop the State’s Hurricane Recovery Plan for Florida’s Beach and Dune System.
As of today, however, it's premature for those interested in a video of the Pensacola area to pay a visit. Only a coastal control map of Northwest Florida is available on the web site. No videos or post-storm photographs can be accessed as yet.

But it is possible to see pre-storm aerial photos of Pensacola Beach neighborhoods by repeatedly zooming in on the map page for Northwest Florida. The resolution gets fuzzier the closer you get, of course, but pixilated individual homes, trees, and large plants can be made out -- with the state's coastal control line superimposed over all. What that shows, as beach residents know all too well, is that a great many structures on Pensacola Beach were built seaward of the coastal control line well before Hurricane Ivan.

Either state and county officials have made a mockery of coastal construction control laws by handing out far too many 'variances' over the years, or someone should arrest Mother Nature for violating state law.

When the web site is completed, DEP advises that Internet visitors will need an up-to-date browser and may have to download the latest Windows Media plug-in or DIVX software to see the videos. This is because, as DEP boasts, the web site uses "state of the art e-tools." Links for the necessary software, which is freeware, are provided on the new DEP web site.

For more information, visit the DEP's description about Regional Coastal Monitoring Data Files.

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