How drone operators can participate in Florence recovery efforts

Florence, a Category 4 hurricane, will make landfall later this week. History has taught us what to expect from a storm of such magnitude: “This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast,” the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., wrote Tuesday, “and that’s saying a lot given the impacts we’ve seen from hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew.” Those storms caused widespread damage, downing power lines, destroying homes, and crippling roadways.

In recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey, a 2017 storm of a strength similar to Florence, the world witnessed the benefits of deploying commercial drones. Following Harvey’s landfall, public agencies used drones to evaluate the condition of roads, bridges, and other key infrastructure; cell companies assessed damage to their towers; insurance adjusters got an early start on the claims cycle. Then FAA Administrator Michael Huerta praised drone operators and their response to Hurricane Harvey in his keynote address at the InterDrone conference last September, stating the disaster “will be looked upon as a landmark in the [drone] industry.”


Image result for hurricane harvey
Flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Wikipedia.


More than ever, drones are seen as a valuable tool for disaster management and response applications. That’s largely thanks to their safety, agility, and ability to collect a wide range of data. “Use cases better served by drones, compared to traditional platforms, include searching and surveying disaster-affected areas, looking for lost persons, and determining the safest paths of entry into a disaster site” shared Daryl Watkins, Vice President of Enterprise Insurance Solutions at PrecisionHawk

“In a disaster, it is imperative to be ready with the proper tools and personnel who can aid emergency workers. Doing so will increase the speed of response and save lives. The ability to mobilize drone pilots, who have the requisite training, gear, and certifications to respond to a disaster, is the key to taking full advantage of the technology’s life-saving capabilities.”

How drone operators should prepare for the recovery efforts

As we hope for the best and prepare for the worst, PrecisionHawk’s Drone Pilot Network team is supporting drone operators as they gear-up for disaster relief efforts. Droners.IO pilots can expect a sharp increase in missions posted to the drone pilot network. But, to participate in these missions, there are four steps they must first complete:

  1. If you’re a Droners.io member, update your availability and schedule here and update your geographic availability here. Set your anticipated location during relief efforts as your primary address.
  2. Monitor flight approvals, authorizations, and restrictions here (details on operating area and safety mitigations will update every few hours)
  3. For missions in North Carolina, apply your North Carolina Commercial Operator Certificate to the Government Operator Certificate that is required for public safety operations here
  4. For missions in North Carolina, register to assist the North Carolina Department of Public Safety

Drone operators who are not members of the PrecisionHawk Drone Pilot Network can sign up on Droners.io.

From all of us at PrecisionHawk, please: stay safe and know before you fly.