BISMARCK, N.D. — Lending an “eye in the sky” over areas encased in heavy snow in northwestern North Dakota, members of the North Dakota Wing, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) have been capturing aerial imagery to support power restoration operations. Volunteers began flying missions Wednesday after being requested through the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services to assist with recovery from the weekend’s spring blizzard, which toppled power lines throughout the area leaving homes without electricity.
Flying missions over downed power lines and electric infrastructure locations, a pilot and airborne photographer from CAP’s Magic City Composite Squadron in Minot, North Dakota, have been providing beneficial reconnaissance for Burke-Divide Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) as linemen restore power to homes in Divide County. After assessing the scope of damage, the Burke-Divide REC has been able to determine the labor and supply requirements for restoration while road crews work to provide them access to damaged poles.
“Our Department of Emergency Services communicates with our local and tribal emergency managers on a routine basis. Over the past month, during two consecutive weekends with spring storms, we have reached out at the state level to offer support and an array of resources to assist wherever we can,” said Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, Emergency Services director. “Using their Cessna 182 aircraft operated by unpaid volunteers, the Civil Air Patrol provides a valuable and economical resource. We want to thank those crews for all they do for our communities.”
North Dakota’s CAP has long supported disaster response and recovery operations, including during the aftermath of winter storms, floods and wildfires. While CAP pilots have not been tasked to fly missions in eastern North Dakota for potential flood operations this week, they are on stand-by to assist if needed.
In April 2021, CAP pilots flew over scorched areas surrounding Medora, North Dakota, after a wildfire burned thousands of acres and prompted an evacuation there. Using thermal imaging, CAP was able to locate hot spots that were not visible from the ground to assist fire crews with decision-making and resource requirements to fully suppress the blaze.
“Civil Air Patrol has a proud history of serving North Dakotans during times of need.” said Lt. Col. Sean Johnson, Chief of Staff for Missions for the North Dakota Wing, “Our volunteers are the key to our success. My gratitude goes out to them for once again taking time away from family and work to give selflessly of their talents and provide our partners the imagery-based situational awareness they needed to make key response decisions.”