County of San Diego Utilizes GIS During Storm

The County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) used its mapping software and technology to respond to Tropical Storm Hillary this January. While the storm significantly impacted public and private property and led to power outages and network issues for several days, the EOC effectively provided maps to support the response efforts. The maps facilitated coordination between County departments, affected cities, non-governmental organizations, and first responders. Some areas of the County received several inches of rain quickly, flooding streets and damaging homes and businesses.

The maps provided necessary information to crews working in the office and the field. The EOC is a temporary unit activated during emergencies and is staffed by the County’s Office of Emergency Services (OES).  The County’s Geographic Information System (GIS) was a valuable tool for the EOC workers responding to the flood.  The maps were used to help prioritize and facilitate staff response to calls, visualize the extent of damage, and request emergency funding. County workers conducted damage assessments, while residents and business owners, as crucial partners in this process, submitted damage reports.  

On February 4, Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for 8 counties in Southern California as winter storms rolled through with high winds and damaging rain. The proclamation covered Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. The emergency proclamation included provisions authorizing a California National Guard response if tasked, facilitating unemployment benefits for impacted residents, and making it easier for out-of-state contractors and utility workers to repair storm damage.  

Quartic Aids San Diego County EOC with GIS

The County EOC, in its commitment to transparency and accountability, released an online survey to residents and business owners for them to report damages created by the flash flooding on January 22nd. The surveys were then used to estimate the extent of the damage left behind by the storm. There were approximately 2,600 reports submitted by homeowners, and public infrastructure damage was estimated to be over $70 million. To receive FEMA emergency funding, there must be a $70 million threshold for repairing damages. Rest assured, county residents are still recovering from the severe impacts of this storm. GIS maps were generated promptly, were a testament to our preparedness, and helped County officials apply for FEMA funding.  They received over $20 million in assistance.  

County GIS staff were augmented with local GIS experts employed by Quartic Solutions, a San Diego-based professional GIS services firm, to staff the required emergency shifts fully.  Quartic aided San Diego County EOC by creating GIS maps and solutions that support response and recovery efforts throughout the county. Quartic staff were called in to provide on-site support to the EOC from January 27th to February 3rd. The team worked as needed through the weekend to make GIS maps supporting the county’s flood recovery efforts.  

With their expertise in creating maps of flood damage and running spatial analysis of damaged hotspots, Quartic staff played a supportive role. Quartic staff took addresses from the survey that County EOC GIS staff geocoded and imported them into ArcGIS® Pro. These maps, a testament to the effectiveness of GIS in disaster response, were then sent to cities, district supervisors, and nonprofits like the Red Cross. They were also used to support other units of the EOC, helping field crews to prioritize debris cleanouts in heavily damaged areas. By overlaying hazard maps with land use and infrastructure data, GIS helped workers identify the critical assets and facilities at risk of flooding, such as roads, bridges, power lines, hospitals, and schools.  

To receive the latest storm conditions, response, and preparedness information, please visit Alert San Diego at

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