Drones Take Center-Stage in Hurricane Clean-up
In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, drones have been utilized in numerous instances to aid in the recovery process. One Electric Cooperative was able to fly 60 missions and inspected more than 1,600 poles in a hard-hit area in Harvey’s path. Drone footage enabled crews to deploy flat-bottomed boats in precise locations without wading through floodwaters. In another instance, a drone flew across the flooded river carrying a rope, where other workers stood waiting for it. (Co-op Drones Take Flight) Without the drone, lineworkers would have had to hurl wire across the river or wait for waters to recede. Even communications operators such as AT&T and Verizon have enlisted the help of drones to inspect cell towers damaged by both Harvey and Irma. (Telecom Companies Turn to Drones)
It is important to note the operator restrictions normally in place – daylight hours, being within sight of the aircraft, and operating at heights up to 400 feet – are suspended when the Federal Emergency Management makes disaster declarations. Those procedures are not standardized and are created for the circumstances.