When tropical weather pounds the Alabama coast, Dauphin Island officials have to quickly
assess the damages: lost sand, missing street signs and cracked roads, among others.
But officials said their job will be easier - and the chances of securing money to rebuild
will be stronger - with a new tool.
The town has hired a company to craft a 3-D digital model of the barrier island as it
currently exists. The model, officials said, will show houses, buildings, signs and dunes,
similar to the mapping program Google Earth but with more detail.
"If I zoom into someone's house, I can zoom it all the way down to their door knob," said
Liberty Duke, the town's economic development consultant.
"In a storm, what we fight with FEMA over is lost sand, lost structure," Duke said,
referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "Now we'll have better data to
reflect the changes."
The town will pay $175,000 to Salt Lake City-based Tridex Solutions Inc. to create the
3-D model, which is scheduled to be presented this month. The company in February used a
truck carrying high-tech mobile scanning technology to capture data around the town.
A major issue on the island is beach erosion. Sections of beach fronting the Gulf of Mexico
have been swept away in storms.
Officials said this digital model - which will be updated periodically - will help the
town in its beach-rebuilding efforts.
Mayor Jeff Collier said that Tridex demonstrated its abilities by creating a 3-D
digital model of Sand Island Lighthouse, which the town owns and is trying to restore.
"It's just going to give us a whole new arena of information to work with that will be
beneficial to the community for years to come," Collier said.
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