CAP Aerial Photos, Online Assessments Assist Idalia Response
The federal and state response to Hurricane Idalia’s assault on Florida includes over 1,200 aerial images provided by Civil Air Patrol’s Florida Wing for impact assessment, along with structural damage evaluated online by CAP members across the U.S.
The Florida Wing was tasked with providing aerial photography after Idalia made landfall Aug. 30 in the state’s Big Bend.
In all, 164 wing members were involved in the response mission. They conducted 33 flights totaling 76 hours, and also carried out four ground missions.
Meanwhile, 39 members in 21 wings across the U.S., including Florida, participated online in the CAP geospatial team's mission assessing Idalia's impact on structures. Mostly analyzing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration images, the GIS team totaled 231.1 volunteer hours in completing 11,167 assessments of 3,223 affected structures — of which 95 were destroyed and 110 received major damage and 258 minor damage.
The high-definition images captured by Civil Air Patrol aircrews enable assessment teams like those with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine the condition of critical infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, water treatment plants, major roadways. and bridges.
State and federal agencies used the photos in assessing damages, identifying potential hazards, and directing relief efforts more effectively.
The Florida Wing’s preparations began with members “working around the clock several days before the storm’s expected landfall to ensure efficient post-storm response,” said Lt. Col. John May, the wing’s director of emergency services.
“With aircraft and ground vehicles moved to storm hangars across the state before the storm and the continuous training of volunteer members to respond following a hurricane, the preparedness level was unquestionably high," May said.
Acting as a Total Force partner and official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Civil Air Patrol helps First Air Force rapidly respond to nonmilitary threats domestically in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage, and provide humanitarian assistance.
Maj. Sybrian Castleman
Public Affairs Officer