University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Geographers help in Hurricane Sandy recovery

The aftermath of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Sandy hit close to home for UND Geography faculty and students, starting with a call to the department on late Friday afternoon on November 2, from alumnus Ray Birchler (1993 Geography and Political Science).

Birchler is part of a volunteer effort to assemble and georeference more than 800 images of the New Jersey shore taken within 72 hours of the storm making landfall. The images were taken from a helicopter by local photographer and Jersey shore advocate, Gil Olsen. Volunteers from Dr. Bradley Rundquist’s Environmental Remote Sensing class (Geog 374) analyzed 400 of these images to determine the names of towns and streets within each image as well as their geographic position, so that they can be indexed for easy review. The images will be made available on the website, “Jersey Shore Sight” ( as both a digital memorial and as a platform for the future sustainable development of the shore. Student participants included Zach Braun, Ryan Domeier, Luke Gaugler, Tom Hutchens, Michael Knudson , Bruce Muller, Shawn Russell, Andrew Schmaus, Brett Sergenian and Rick Thalacker. Dr. Gregory Vandeberg supervised this effort by the Geography department.