COLUMBIA, South Carolina — Civil Air Patrol pilots photographing the flood damage in South Carolina began using a new tool in their emergency response arsenal — a Garmin Virb camera system that attaches to their planes’ wing strut. The cameras capture ground images directly below, which allows officials to make much faster use of the images.
South Carolina Wing officials received three of the new cameras from CAP’s National Operations Center at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
The camera systems and online tools to deliver these images were developed through tests with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1st Air Force (AFNORTH) and Civil Air Patrol over the last year, said John Desmarais, CAP director of operations.
In one week, Civil Air Patrol provided 3,650 aerial photos of the South Carolina flood damage. Aircrews made 110 flights, spending 202.9 hours in the sky above the state.
About 187 CAP members have worked in the air and on the ground in support of the flooding response.
Aircrews from South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Georgia and Virginia are flying under the direction of 1st Air Force at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. A total of 21 CAP planes have been deployed for the South Carolina mission.
Members of the public are invited to join CAP members in ranking the aerial photos here.
The crowdsourcing process expedites emergency officials’ ability to identify critical infrastructure needs, CAP officials note.
CAP is also conducting search and rescue flights. So far, CAP has directed emergency officials to numerous vehicles in distress, located two unsafe bridges that had no law enforcement or other barricades and flown over roads in and out of Georgetown to help state emergency management plan for evacuations.