Drone Pilots Prepare for Hurricane Florence

As Hurricane Florence intensified, more than one million people were forced to evacuate from the coastal areas to get to safety. However, there were still residents determined to ride out the incoming storm in their homes. As a result, drone pilots began watching forecasts ready to help.

Drones have become a major part of disaster response and management across many parts of the world. Drones come in handy by helping rescuers assess a situation and plan an effective course of action in the fastest way possible. They quickly provide a good eye in the air and prevent situations where rescuers put themselves in harm’s way.

Hardley Doyle-Gonzalez, the head of SMG drones said that one of the issues his team faces is keeping their drones charged in such emergency situations. So now they have taken to keeping hundreds of batteries on hand since the drones have become such an important tool during rescue operations. During last year’s Hurricane Irma in Florida, Doyle-Gonzalez was in a hotel in Naples from where she was supposed to provide drone support for ongoing rescue operations. She had to ensure all the equipment was kept safely in waterproof cases. When the hurricane subsided, she flew the drones to capture high-resolution images of buildings, houses, and more, capturing clearly the damages sustained on them.

As Hurricane Florence moved closer, drone teams were preparing. Keeping a large supply of batteries on hand is not the only supplies a Droner needs in these emergency response situations. According to Craig Besse, Airbus Aerial’s flight ops manager, a drone operator will need about 30 gallons of water and a lot of food. It is an exhausting, time consuming, yet necessary procedure.

Experts predicted that Hurricane Florence would bring torrential downpours, coastal erosion, wind and possible flooding. It was estimated that there would be over $60 billion in economic damage and losses. That is why insurance and utility companies rely on support from information collected by drones. Without the speedy recovery of damage data, the estimated damage costs could be even more astronomical. It’s amazing how much a small drone can help in such catastrophic situations.

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