11:07 AM

CAP Aircrews Using New Tools in Hurricane Maria Response

FEMA-Provided Site Enables Crowdsourcing for Puerto Rico Damage Image Assessment

Civil Air Patrol aircrews from both the U.S. mainland as well the Puerto Rico Wing are supporting CAP’s ongoing Hurricane Maria mission, which 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 Wednesday morning, CAP aircrews had made 131 flights and provided more than 36,000 images. “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 CAP response in Puerto Rico and the U.S. 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 Maria. Members and nonmembers on the mainland can contribute by visiting the crowdsourcing website and ranking the aerial photos.