Evacuating people from their homes is not a simple or inexpensive task; using the county's GIS, which combined evacuation data with county demographic data, helped decision makers better understand the true number of people evacuated-an overwhelming 515,000-and their underlying characteristics. "The county developed reentry and recovery plans and assessed the impact of the fires in a remarkable way," says Nate Johnson, manager, California-Hawaii-Nevada region, ESRI. "GIS map images allowed county staff to assess damage to property, assets, and habitat even while the wildfires were still burning. Using a geographic approach to forecast the effects from the fires made it easier to see how best to prioritize efforts in the aftermath of the disaster. Maps provided immediate and vital information such as flood risk, habitat loss, and burned structures. This information proved essential for developing the course for post disaster efforts."
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