Hurricane Ian, passed by the southwestern coast of Florida as a Category 4 hurricane and left catastrophic damage behind itself. As rescue crews and disaster relief groups jump-start recovery in the region, drones have emerged as a critical force multiplier for damage assessment and search and rescue efforts.
Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), an electric utility that serves more than 12 million people in Florida, is using its new FPLAir One drone to assess the damage on the West Coast. Since this fixed-wing drone can fly in heavy winds, it can gather real-time information about the damage caused by Hurricane Ian. This enables FPL to get the right crews and equipment to the right place, considerably speeding up the restoration efforts.
Telecom company AT&T has dispatched drone operators to areas that are too risky to be accessed by its ground team. The pilots are flying their aircraft from a safe distance and providing wireless and wireline damage assessments to restoration workers.
Verizon‘s drone teams have also mobilized from the safe zones where they were pre-staged before the storm to inspect cell tower damage.
Support from the drone makers
The drone industry has also stepped forward to help communities respond faster to the damage inflicted by the storm.
Drone maker Skydio has established a 24/7 hotline to resolve any aircraft flight, feature, or accessory issues that public safety or industrial users may encounter.
DroneDeploy is offering qualified organizations free short-term access to its enterprise cloud-processing platform and priority support from the company’s crisis response and technical support teams.
The contribution of drones to inspection and rescue missions can help evaluate the damage and make the restoration faster.