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A Month of Emergencies in America, in GIF Form

Mapping where emergencies are happening in the U.S.

U.S. Census Bureau

We are in a state of emergency. All the time.

A new map from the U.S. Census Bureau allows users to tack real-time emergency information, from floods to fires to storms to FEMA-declared disasters. The map features a breakdown of all the crummy things going on across the country on any given day. And based on a scan of a few months worth of days, there's something crummy going on pretty much all the time.

The map sucks in real-time data updates from the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. By linking these disaster areas to Census information about the populations and workforces in these affected areas, the agency hopes to improve emergency preparedness, response and recovery. Useful, sure, but also just plain interesting to be able see how much of an emergency the country finds itself mixed up in on any given day.

Here's an animation of what 28 days of official emergencies looks like, from May 22 to June 18, 2012, mapped on the continental U.S.

Beginning May 26, you can see tropical storm Beryl coming ashore in Georgia and the Carolinas for a few days, and then tapering down and taking off. A rash of wildfires breaks out in the Southwest from early- to mid-June. The Pacific Northwest and a good chunk of the Northeast stay lit up throughout this four-week period thanks for official disaster declarations still in place in the aftermath of severe winter storms. And Brainerd, Minnesota, became part of a "flood outlook area" at the beginning of June; the population of Brainerd area is more than 39,000.

Thankfully, none of these was a real devastator. But there's certainly a lot of emergency situations going on at any given time. Seeing them all on one map isn't going to prevent all emergencies from happening, but hopefully it will help us deal with them when they do.

Images courtesy U.S. Census Bureau

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.