Fri, 13 Jun ’08
As the nation’s coastal areas prepare for hurricane season, which stretches from June 1 to November 30, Civil Air Patrol members stay vigilant for whatever Mother Nature may bring.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center announced May 22 projected climate conditions point to a near-normal or above-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year. According to CAP’s interim national commander, Brig. Gen. Amy S. Courter, CAP is prepared.
“Local, state and national emergency service providers depend on CAP for support, both in the air and on the ground,” said Courter. “Our pilots are almost always first on the scene taking damage assessment photos. CAP’s ground teams complement this effort by providing whatever assistance is needed, including victim support and communications connectivity in areas where the infrastructure has been severely damaged.”
In order to maintain a high level of readiness at all times, CAP members undergo extensive training, which includes participation in training exercises often conducted in partnership with other emergency service providers.
CAP’s Louisiana and Mississippi wings — both significant contributors in the air and on the ground during Hurricane Katrina — maintain readiness through preparedness exercises. The Louisiana Wing will conduct a five-day operations exercise beginning June 18 in which the wing’s incident command staff will face unknown simulated missions, which they will perform as if they were actual missions. The scenarios include aerial imagery of critical infrastructure such as bridges and rail lines, aerial and ground searches, disaster relief and support for state and local agencies.
“Many of our wing’s command staff have the intense experience of Katrina still in our minds,” said Lt. Col. Amos Plante, Louisiana Wing’s chief of staff. “We are seasoned.”
The Mississippi Wing participated in a hurricane exercise on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with the Army National Guard in April. “They were very pleased with our aerial imaging capabilities,” said Mississippi Wing Commander Col. Tillman Carroll.
Other wings also marked the season’s start with hurricane preparedness exercises. The Florida Wing helped staff Florida’s Emergency Operations Center and did air and ground reconnaissance as part of a hurricane preparedness exercise on May 28, while the Georgia Wing surveyed simulated damage and took aerial imagery of simulated damage and infrastructure at several sites in partnership with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency on May 28 and 29.
The South Carolina Wing provided aerial imaging of the state’s evacuation routes and logistical and communications support to help the state assess the effectiveness of its lane-reversal plans on June 4.
CAP’s emergency response during the devastating 2005 hurricane season – which included hurricanes Katrina, Ophelia, Rita and Wilma – earned the organization a Summit Award from the American Society of Association Executives.