CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — As Hurricane Florence approaches, the Civil Air Patrol Virginia Air Wing is getting ready to respond to the aftermath.
The air patrol is an all-volunteer auxiliary unit of the Air Force.
“It was founded in 1941, just seven days prior to Pearl Harbor,” said Colonel Dean Gould, the air wing’s commander.
Gould says the auxiliary is responsible for non-combat missions, usually disaster reliefs, and they’re ready for whatever Florence throws our way.
“We have been moving our assists to be safe and protected” Gould said about their planes.
The air wing is made up of around 1,900 members, including hundreds of cadets between the ages of 12 to 20.
Gould says there are 52 air wings through the country, the DC capital area, and Puerto Rico.
They’ve responded to a number of disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, where Gould says they went door-to-door in southern states providing help.
But their most important task is helping to take photos for government entities to survey disaster damage.
Gould says their photos help FEMA make disaster declarations.
Last year, the Civil Air Patrol took hundreds of thousands of photos during Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria.
Gould says a crew from Virginia flew down to help disaster recovery in Puerto Rico.
“We’ll get pictures of flood zones, critical infrastructure, bridges, buildings, police stations, fire departments, hospitals, whatever the state and FEMA need,” he said.
Gould says Virginia has 22 squadrons in the state. Five are located in Hampton Roads.
If Virginia does not receive significant damage during Florence, Gould says they will go to assist other squadrons in North and South Carolina.