Civil Air Patrol's response to Hurricane Ian

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Before Hurricane Ian had cleared the northeast section of Florida, Civil Air Patrol volunteers were already on the move with tasking from various state and federal agencies.

Specialized equipment for various air and ground imaging teams had been transported to Central Florida before landfall to be installed and ready to use as soon as possible.

A small, unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS/drone) team and a highly trained disaster ground search and rescue team (GSAR) were deployed to Florida as part of the advance teams from across the county. Additional aircrews from other wings and regions were on stand-by to augment the Florida Wing aircrews. Marco and Island aircrews were at the ready.

Acting as a Total Force partner and official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Civil Air Patrol helps First Air Force rapidly respond to nonmilitary threats domestically in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage, and provide humanitarian assistance.

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Hurricane Ian made landfall in the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area, just North of Naples and Marco Island, as a Category 4 hurricane but was only a couple of miles per hour under the Category 5 classification. As the storm approached Florida, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tasked Civil Air Patrol with taking pre-storm aerial photos of the west coast of the state, as weather data was showing then Tropical Storm 9 as having the potential of developing into a powerful, major storm. This task was accomplished in just under three days with only one and a half days before Hurricane Ian landfall once the air sorties were completed. Marco Island Squadron participated actively in this mission.

Florida Wing mission incident commander for the pre-storm and relocation mission, Lt. Col. Sam Chiodo, said, “We are very proud of our volunteers for being able to fully accomplish the mission sorties in such a short period of time while they were preparing themselves for the arrival of a major storm with an unpredictable path.”

After the storm air imagery collection teams departed rapidly. Aircrews provide standard oblique and nadir photos.

Supporting these teams is the Florida Wing incident management team (IMT) comprised of volunteers not only from Florida, but from other wings, region headquarters, and national headquarters working in a virtual environment continuously throughout the day and into the night to maintain flight and ground tasking workflow to complete the imagery assignments from the state and FEMA as rapidly as possible. The support provided by the IMT include weather and safety assessments, securing lodging, tracking expenditures, providing fuel availability for aircraft and ground vehicles, airport condition, communications support and many additional functions necessary to keep the teams in the field and in the air.

This is a total team effort, not only for Civil Air Patrol within Florida, but organization-wide with supporting volunteer from across the country to support the disaster response missions for the state and FEMA to bring assistance to the people affected by Hurricane Ian as quickly and efficiently as possible. Marco Island Squadron is proud to continue its support of Marco Island and Southwest Florida communities.

Florida Wing tackles pre-storm tasking from FEMA

Florida Wing standard hurricane procedures ahead of storm arrival includes moving aircraft and ground vehicles to safe locations to protect them and have them ready to be moved in response mission status as soon as it is safe to take on tasking from state and federal agencies.

Acting as a Total Force partner and official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Civil Air Patrol helps First Air Force rapidly respond to nonmilitary threats domestically in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage, and provide humanitarian assistance.

With the uncertainty of where Hurricane Ian would actually make landfall, Florida Wing delayed early relocation, which was an exceptionally wise decision since the storm took a sharp turn changing course from a predicted landfall range from Tampa through to the big bend to an actual landfall at Fort Myers/Cape Coral, which is considerably south of the initial predictions.

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Just a few days ahead of Hurricane Ian’s landfall, Florida Wing, including Marco Island Squadron, received a tasking request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for aerial photos of the entire west coast of the state to have updated imagery of the coastline to use for comparison to post-storm imagery to assess storm damage.

Although this was a short notice request, Civil Air Patrol was able to provide FEMA with the requested imagery and still safely relocate aircraft before the storm. Marco Island volunteer members, who were also preparing themselves and their homes for the storm, stepped up to assure these important pre-storm images and aircraft relocations were completed well before Hurricane Ian made landfall.

Florida Wing mission incident commander Lt. Col. Sam Chiodo said, “We are very proud of our volunteers for being able to fully accomplish the mission sorties in such a short period of time while they were preparing themselves for the arrival of a major storm with an unpredictable path.”

Marco Island Squadron is proud to continue its support of Marco Island and Southwest Florida communities.