Volume: 04, Issue: 01 09/07/2005 
Damage to Building 103, the External Tank Manufacturing Building, at the Michoud Assembly Facility. Image courtesy NASA.
Expand Image
Mike Abell of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. loads the first truck with food and personal care items collected for Hurricane Katrina victims. Image courtesy NASA.
Expand Image
Hurricane Katrina left holes in the roof of the Vertical Assembly Building at the Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans. Image courtesy NASA.
Expand Image
Printer Friendly Version
Other Articles in This Issue:
Science Resources Aid Hurricane Katrina Response
Cassini Discovers Enceladus Tiger Stripes are Cubs
Mars Mission Successes Delight Scientists
NSTA Online Resources Help Students Understand Hurricanes

Hurricane Katrina Strikes NASA Facilities

As Hurricane Katrina roared across the Gulf Coast, three NASA facilities stood helplessly in her path. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. received only minor damage and is now providing support to two more significantly damaged facilities, Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Michoud Assembly Facility just outside New Orleans.

Both facilities are closed during recovery efforts. During the storm, hundreds of people -- including employees, family members, and others -- took shelter at Stennis. A small contingency of NASA employees and contractors rode out the storm at Michoud. There are no reports of any injuries at NASA facilities.

"My heart goes out to all the people affected by this hurricane," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is using Stennis Space Center as a rescue and recovery staging area for local recovery efforts. NASA is temporarily housing agency workers who lost their homes and don’t have any other place to stay, but approximately 50 non-agency evacuees who had taken refuge at Stennis were moved Sept. 7 to better hurricane relief shelters. Electrical power has been restored, and there is limited phone service. Food, clothing, medical supplies, fuel and personal hygiene items are arriving regularly for the emergency operations people working out of the center.

Initial damage assessments indicate some buildings at Stennis sustained water and roof damage, but the exact extent has not been determined. The center's Space Shuttle main engine test stands do not appear to be damaged.

At Michoud, which makes the Space Shuttle's external fuel tanks, several buildings suffered window and roof damage. It appears that space flight hardware was not damaged, but a preliminary assessment has not been completed. The facility is using generators for electricity until the site is back on the main power grid. Helicopters and boats are the only way to transport supplies to the emergency operations people at the facility while road are being cleared.

NASA will provide new information on the centers as it becomes available at http://www.nasa.gov/hurricane . A public website has been established to convey important contact information at http://www.nasa.gov/eoc .

The agency has also opened a dedicated toll-free number to take information and provide assistance to individuals seeking information about family members that may be sheltering at the Stennis Space Center or the Michoud Assembly Facility. The toll free number is 1-877-470-5240. NASA also has a toll-free number for recorded updates about general conditions at Stennis and Michoud: 1-888-362-4323. In addition, the agency is taking email inquiries about personnel sheltering at Stennis and Michoud. Send e-mail inquiries to inquiries@hq.nasa.gov with “Assistance – Katrina” in the subject line.

© 1997-2017 Space ExplorersTM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  Archived Issues Issue Index Contact Feedback Subscribe Home