Hurricane Dorian Drone Emergency Response Efforts

Isabella | UAV Coach

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Hurricane Dorian became the strongest and most destructive storm The Bahamas has ever seen as a Category 5 storm over Labor Day weekend. At least 20 deaths have been reported. The hurricane continues to make its way up the United States' eastern coast this week as a Category 2 storm, bringing destructive wind, tornadoes, storm surges, and heavy rainfall. Recovery and relief efforts are already underway, with drones playing an essential role.

Florida Power & Light deployed 58 drones to help crews visualize damage in dense or flooded areas that would have been difficult to reach on foot. With the drone-collected visuals and data, FPL was able to determine where to prioritize their efforts and send their crews.

Of course, prior to flying near any disaster area, general aviation and drone pilots should check NOTAMs and TFRs. Drone pilots must comply with FAA rules and should:

  • Avoid flying in the area unless conducting an active disaster response or recovery mission.
  • Be aware that the FAA might issue a TFR in the affected area. Be sure to check for active TFRs if you plan to fly.
  • Remember that you cannot fly inside a TFR without FAA approval.

More on Hurricane Dorian drone emergency response efforts here.

Will you be in the path of Hurricane Dorian or involved with relief efforts? 

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When drones were first a thing and people started showing up to natural disasters with their drones getting permission to fly was more about what you knew about operating a drone safely and working with first responders. 

Now, it’s more about what you know about solving real problems, electrical, water, oil & gas, etc..  if your there to help inspect the grid then being a QEW that has a 107 will get you deployed.  Being on a list doesn’t guarantee being deployed.  There are so many bogus websites and claims that have lists that with all good intentions aside will never be deployed. 

Also, first responders are becoming critical of companies who volunteer to help and have no idea of the dangers and hardships they would encounter, only to have to be rescued themselves and then on the companies website they spin it like they did this great thing.

If your young and have experience in this sort of disaster relief then please volunteer and make a difference.  If your anything other than that then witness it on the news like the rest of us.  The Behamas is an island, for every human that goes there your potentially taking away resources, food and water from a resident who needs it.  

I don’t mean to sound negative, but for many effected this has become a life and death struggle and it requires the skill set of very serious, knowledgeable and experienced people to help.  We spent four months this year working on the utilities recovery after the Paridise fire in Northern California where hundreds of drone enthusiast showed up to help.  The overwhelming number of people who were recruited online had no idea what to do and it took a month and a half to cull out the well intended and get crews that knew what they were doing.  It was a logistical nightmare.  



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