CAP Aircrews Using New Tools in Maria Response
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Aircrews made up of Civil Air Patrol volunteers from both the U.S. mainland as well as personnel from the Puerto Rico Wing are supporting CAP’s ongoing Hurricane Maria mission. Their response is being aided by new tools recently developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
A new CAP image browser, provided by FEMA, allows aircrews to identify the aerial image collection for the day and to focus on particular areas in Puerto Rico and the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands that have been photographed since the Category 4 storm made landfall on Sept 20.
“This is extremely helpful to FEMA, and to CAP, as hundreds of photos are taken each day,” said John Desmarais, CAP’s director of operations. “These new tools help expedite the aerial damage assessment process our aircrews go through on every flight, ensuring that each photo taken is processed, tabulated and tagged as quickly as possible and ready for a timely review by FEMA,1st Air Force and other government entities involved in the response to Hurricane Maria.”
As of this morning, CAP aircrews had flown 131 sorties and provided more than 36,000 images in support of the response to Hurricane Maria. “Our aircrews are providing these photos (and some video) to FEMA in as near real-time as ever before,” Desmarais said.
An older tool first used after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and last used after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 is also contributing to the ongoing Civil Air Patrol response in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands — crowdsourcing, an online process that expedites emergency officials’ ability to identify the impact of storm damage to an area by crowds evaluating the uploaded images.
FEMA is using crowdsourcing to seek rankings of CAP aircrews’ photos of areas affected by Hurricane Maria. And, unlike those CAP members currently onsite in the Caribbean, CAP members and even non-members on the mainland can help out by visiting the crowdsourcing website and ranking the aerial photos.
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com for more information.