Even as Hurricane Ike takes aim at the Texas coast, Civil Air Patrol members are using Cessna 172s and 182s to assess damage from Hurricane Gustav. Through Monday, the CAP’s Louisiana Wing had flown 42 sorties and more than 83 flight hours. Gustav struck the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts as a Category 2 hurricane last week.
Objectives over the first four days included photographing dams, river locks, power plants, power lines, and gas plants. CAP members also photographed sites for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Additional missions were flown for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Louisiana Air National Guard. One crew flew a utility company employee to inspect damaged power lines.
Operations in Louisiana are running smoothly, said CAP Lt. Col. Harry Stafford. “Members…are volunteering despite difficulties and damage associated with their own homes,” he said.
Gustav, a Category 2 hurricane packing high winds and heavy rains, hammered the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts before slowly moving inland as a tropical storm and wreaking havoc on upstate Louisiana. More than 1 million people in the state were left without power in the storm’s wake, and flooding was reported throughout Louisiana.
CAP wings along the Gulf Coast are on alert in anticipation of Hurricane Ike. The Civil Air Patrol is the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.
Pilots should be aware that the FAA has begun issuing notams for hurricane relief efforts. Because TFR airspace frequently changes, AOPA strongly encourages pilots to obtain a briefing and check notams before every flight.