17:12 PM

Dorian's Approach Spurs SE Region Preparations, Plans

1st Lt. Alysia English
Director of Public Affairs
Southeast Region

Civil Air Patrol’s Southeast Region has initiated Hurricane Dorian preparations well in advance of the storm’s anticipated landfall.

The potentially deadly storm, expected to reach the Florida coast sometime Monday, marks the seventh time since fall 2016 that air and ground crews from CAP will provide post-hurricane disaster relief and aerial photography to federal and state agencies.

Col. Andrea Van Buren, commander of the Southeast Region, said CAP – the official U.S. Air Force auxiliary – will likely be called for missions early in the week and has already received numerous media calls in Florida.

“Our crews are all too familiar with the activities associated with hurricanes,” Van Buren said. “With hurricanes Matthew, Irma, Maria, Michael, Florence and Hermine, our volunteer crews spent several weeks in active post-storm disaster service and took hundreds of thousands of aerial photographs documenting risks and damage on the ground.

“We are well-experienced in working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other federal and state agencies on this type of mission.”

Col. Luis Garcia, CAP Florida Wing commander, said his units are moving CAP planes, ground vehicles and other equipment to safe locations. Earlier this week, the wing initiated its daily Hazard Planning Cell to prepare for the pending storm.

“Our immediate priority is the safety and security of our members and their families. After the storm has passed and weather conditions permit, we will be able to respond immediately to assigned missions that typically include aerial photography for FEMA, providing visual documentation for the agency’s decision-making,” Garcia said.

The Georgia Wing has made similar preparations with its aircraft and crews, anticipating missions a little later. This could include not only missions in Georgia but also support to Florida or other affected areas as well.

FEMA tasked the CAP sUAS Program to deploy to Puerto Rico as part of the effort. The term “sUAS” stands for “small unmanned aircraft systems,” commonly referred to as drones.

CAP sUAS teams representing the organization’s Florida, Delaware and Maryland wings traveled Tuesday to Puerto Rico and prepared to weather out the storm to be in place for immediate post-storm search and rescue efforts using the drones. Fortunately for Puerto Rico, Dorian moved north and the sUAS teams returned; they now are preparing for the CAP response in Florida in conjunction with other CAP air and ground crews.

Van Buren urged all CAP members to “first and foremost, stay safe during this weather event so that you can continue to serve your communities as the outstanding volunteers you are.”

CAP’s Southeast Region includes about 10,000 volunteer members serving in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Headquartered at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, CAP operates the nation’s largest Cessna airplane fleet. It’s tasked with such emergency duties as aerial damage assessment, search and rescue, and transport.