13:08 PM

CAP Aircrew Links 300 Stranded by Harvey Flooding to Needed Help

Photo Flights Continue Across SE Texas; U.S. Rep. Abraham Participating as Pilot

Capt. Margot A. Meyers
Public Affairs Officer
Arizona Wing

A Civil Air Patrol aircrew taking photos along the rain-swollen Colorado River near Wharton, Texas, in Hurricane Harvey’s wake took quick action upon receiving a radio call for help and observing a group of people gathered at Holy Family Catholic Church.

Some 300 residents sought shelter at the church from the floodwaters that had cut off access to the town of 8,800 about 60 miles southwest of Houston, and they were running low on food and water.

A second CAP plane was dispatched to obtain more detailed information about the location, including a phone number, to pass along to the Texas Emergency Operations Center. As a result, the American Red Cross team at the operations center was able to contact its volunteer at the church and arrange to provide needed support.


That relief effort Friday was all in a day’s work for Civil Air Patrol volunteers working from their incident command post at the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio, site of CAP’s 2017 National Conference.

On Saturday, aircrews carrying out CAP’s damage assessment mission flew another 57 hours and took 38,502 photos, bringing the totals to 118 hours flown and more than 67,000 photos to date.

So far, 333 CAP volunteers from 34 states have contributed to this mission.

One of those volunteers is U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., a CAP major. He joined the mission Thursday, piloting aerial photography flights over flooded areas of Louisiana and Texas.

Abraham said he planned to fly through the weekend. He told USA Today, “From the air you can see that the water is so massive it will take weeks to make sure no one’s in harm’s way.”

At the San Marcos Regional Airport in Texas, 19-year-old Cadet Lt. Col. Chuck Baker has been managing aircrews and flights since air operations began Wednesday.

Serving as an air operations branch director, Baker is handling the logistics to support 30 CAP airplanes from around the country as well as assigning crews and aircraft to missions, briefing them and tracking their flight progress.

He is a member of the Texas Wing’s David Lee (Tex) Hill Composite Squadron, based at the San Marcos airport.

With the CAP National Conference’s conclusion Saturday night, the incident command post is shifting to San Marcos Regional today, and 15 planes will be relocated to Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base near Houston.

Ellington Field, a defense and homeland security compound, operates as a joint reserve base with all five U.S. armed forces represented on-site.

“I am extremely proud of all of our aircrews, they did exactly what they were trained to do — fly the photo assignment, but let us know if they find persons in distress and get other assets out to pursue the situation when they see someone in a bad situation,” said Lt. Col. Rick Woolfolk, CAP’s incident commander in Texas.

Photos taken by CAP aircrews over the past four days are available for public viewing on this website for the University of Texas Center for Space Research Modeling, Observation and Visualization for Emergency Support, or MOVES.