AIRT uses UAS to perform damage assessment operations in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian

Members of the Airborne International Response Team (AIRT) formed a joint-reconnaissance team with members of the Southeast Florida Region 7 All-Hazards Incident Management Team (SEFL-R7 AHIMT) to survey damage across the hardest hit areas of the Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands in the Northern Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.

Using UAS, the team conduced damage assessment operations at the University of the Bahamas – Northern Campus, and nearby neighborhoods that were hit hard by the deadly hurricane.

“We saw first-hand the damage that this hurricane leveled upon the Bahamas,” says Nigel Baker, team coordinator and incident commander of SEFL-R7 AHIMT. 

“The combination of massive storm surge and fierce Category 5 winds was more than most structures could bare, no matter what code they were built under.”

Equipped with high-resolution camera systems, the UAS are helping map disaster scenes in “new ways never before imaginable,” the team says.

“By combining the drone with the latest rapid mapping technology, we were able to produce a highly accurate and incredibly detailed digital map of the hardest hit areas of Marsh Harbor and other the towns,” says Christopher Todd, executive director, AIRT. 

For Todd, operations utilizing UAS following disasters like Dorian will soon become commonplace across the globe. 

“Beyond just search and rescue and damage assessment missions, these types of systems will help us provide a better understanding of what exactly happened, why it happened, and how it might be prevented from happening again in the future,” Todd says.

Baker adds, “this new technology is quickly providing new capabilities for emergency managers. More detailed information coming in quicker than ever before will allow us to make better decisions that will ultimately help save more lives.”