Civil Air Patrol Flying Missions To Document Michael's Impact
Friday, October 12, 2018

By Lt. Col. Andrew Oppmann, Southeast Region HQ

Pensacola, Fla. -

Civil Air Patrol’s Florida Wing flew six aerial photograph missions Thursday to document the devastating damage by Hurricane Michael’s landfall on the state’s Panhandle region.         

Lt. Col. Bill Weiler, one of the wing’s incident commanders, said the volunteer civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force was flying sorties until daylight faded Thursday.         

Weiler’s team, flying two aircraft out of Pensacola and Tallahassee, was given 10 aerial photo targets by federal disaster relief officials. “If we don’t complete all 10 of the current flight tasks before losing light,” he said, “they will be done in the morning.”         

Weiler said Florida Wing crews focused mostly on damage assessments of federal property in the Panhandle, the area hardest hit when the Category 4 storm roared into the state at Mexico Beach Wednesday with winds clocked at 155 miles an hour.        

He added, “We’re doing road access assessment to facilitate better ground relief routing. We can identify flooding, damage, and large debris blocked areas emergency services and residents may encounter in the impacted areas.”         

CAP, acting as the Air Force Auxiliary, is supporting Air Force Northern (AFNORTH) during Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations following the landfall of Michael on the East Coast.         

AFNORTH's primary role is to support U.S. Northern Command's efforts to provide assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s relief efforts.         

Col. Barry Melton, commander of CAP’s Southeast Region, said his six-wing group established an area command to respond to missions related to the storm’s aftermath, which he described as “a coordination point for personnel and resources flowing in and out of the affected area.”         

The effort, headed by Lt. Col. Joe Knight, will also maintain contact with the Atlanta regional headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Melton said.         

“The Southeast Region stands ready to assist the affected areas, including the Carolinas, if needed,” he said.         

CAP's Southeast Region includes about 10,000 members serving in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, as well as Tennessee, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.         

Meanwhile, in Georgia, CAP crews received 18 mission taskings and completed two sorties over four counties in the southwest part of Georgia.       Col. Carlton Sumner, Georgia Wing’s director of emergency services, said members are uploading aerial photos from those sorties to federal and state officials, who will use them “to triage damage and respond to those in need.”        

Sumner said the storm presented some unique challenges. “The rapid movement required a constantly evolving plan, particularly with respect to available personnel and assets,” he said. “From hour to hour, we had to update that information.”         

For example, Sumner said, areas in the extreme southeast and coastal Georgia were originally in the tropical storm wind path, making those units unavailable for deployment. However, when the storm took a more north-northeast route, we gained the use of those members.          

“We always emphasize safety first,” he said. “Most Georgia Wing members appear to be safe. But, we are still awaiting full reports from those in the heavily affected southwest part of the state."      

Col. Carlton Sumner, Georgia Wing’s director of emergency services, points on a map to areas covered during Thursday’s aerial photo missions (Georgia Wing photo).
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Photo Caption:  Col. Carlton Sumner, Georgia Wing’s director of emergency services, points on a map to areas covered during Thursday’s aerial photo missions (Georgia Wing photo).
Article Information
Reviewed by: Lt Col Judy Steele
Syndicated to: Region Hq, Alabama Wing, Florida Wing, Georgia Wing, Mississippi Wing, Tennessee Wing, Puerto Rico Wing
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Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com for more information.
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