Saturday, May 25, 2013

Civil Air Patrol to photograph damaged home sites: Up to 12,000 homes damaged, according to some estimates

MOORE, Okla. —"I don’t think we’ve ever had a mission like this one,” said Lt. Col. Dave Roberts of the door-to-door ground team the Civil Air Patrol is performing for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The job, which began on Wednesday, is to photograph up to 12,000 home sites damaged by the Oklahoma tornadoes.

“We’ve had boots on the ground and have been right in the middle of it from day one,” said Roberts, Saturday’s CAP incident commander, of CAP’s role in providing photographic assessments of every house damaged by the tornadoes.

Half of the members conducting the mission are cadets 12 to 20 years old, he noted. To date, more than 100 members from the Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas wings have contributed to the aerial and ground team missions. “We’ve got some really sharp people working and they are doing a great job," he said.

CAP’s aerial photo tracks taken for FEMA and the Oklahoma Division of Emergency Management, which documented the depth and width of the damage, were added to Google Earth images from Moore and Oklahoma City to determine where streets had been located and where houses were supposed to be, creating a grid to guide CAP’s pilots.

On the ground, GPS trackers are being used to locate housing sites within 30 feet of their location, allowing CAP to photograph each home site. CAP is taking an average of 500 photos per day, but is planning to triple that number beginning Saturday with the addition of more volunteers and more cameras.

“It really drives home what I’ve seen on the news the last couple of days,” said Capt. Brian Summers of the Oklahoma Wing, a ground team leader for the door-to-door photography. “I feel bad for the people affected by the storms and am amazed at the positive attitude of homeowners. All have said thank you for our support.

“CAP is happy to be able to provide the pictures to allow everybody to see how severe the damage was and to assist FEMA and others in planning for the future and to support the people affected.”

“CAP gets the job done; we don’t have to worry,” said Linda Pryor, emergency management officer with ODEM, which is using the images “to compare which houses were there and which weren’t so FEMA can get recovery money to the homeowners.”

“I am honored to work with such am amazing team,” said Chris Vaughn of FEMA. “Thank you for everything you do. You are really making a difference in the way that we support survivors.”

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