Civil Air Patrol members are conducting damage assessment in support of various federal, state and local agencies as part of the response to a series of earthquakes and aftershocks off the southern coast of Puerto Rico since Dec. 28.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency requested support from CAP for disaster relief efforts on the island.
“Civil Air Patrol has a legacy of serving its communities in times of trouble,” said Lt. Col. Rick Woolfolk, CAP deputy incident commander for the Puerto Rico response. “Our teams are in the field gathering information that will help in the rescue and recovery efforts underway.”
Five CAP ground teams gathered photographs of damaged structures and facilities in communities on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, including Peñuelas, Yauco, Guanica and Guayanilla. Photos were sent to FEMA for analysis.
Trained CAP crews are also using small, Unmanned Aerial Systems, commonly known as drones, to take photos and video. Three two-member teams are coordinating with search and rescue managers to provide overhead support for ground operations. Those teams continue their operations as they are able, given weather conditions in the affected area.
CAP planes are grounded due to adverse wind and weather conditions. The crews will conduct aerial assessment flights as soon as conditions permit. Typically, these aerial photography missions produce hundreds of photos that FEMA reviews in order to determine where the need for disaster relief support is greatest.
“Safety is a top priority since day one,” said Col. Edgardo Torres, commander of CAP’s Puerto Rico Wing. “Puerto Rico Wing has five cadet squadrons based in the affected areas. I have asked CAP members and their families to review their Family Emergency Plans.”
Necessary measures have been taken to safeguard CAP personnel, property, equipment and assets in the area as authorities work with the emergency. The Puerto Rico Wing Crisis Communications Team was activated to facilitate services to wing members affected by the continued earthquakes and aftershocks.
Activated on November 22, 1949, the Puerto Rico Wing of the Civil Air Patrol covers the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico Wing headquarters are located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Wing consists of over 1,000 cadet and adult members who are part of 30 squadrons loacted across the island.