Saturday, September 21, 2013

FEMA Asks Volunteers in Colorado Flood to Stop and Go Home

FEMA Asks Volunteers in Colorado Flood to Stop and Go Home

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Private drone rescue team ordered by FEMA to shut down volunteer efforts

Colorado National Guardsmen respond to floods in Boulder County, Colorado, United States. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Colorado National Guardsmen respond to floods in Boulder County, Colorado, United States. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
By JG Vibes
September 18, 2013
A volunteer group who was helping in the rescue efforts with the Colorado flood have been forced by FEMA to stop and go home. FEMA even threatened the group with arrest when they wanted to carry on their efforts anyway.
Tech Dirt reported that:
A local company, Falcon UAV, makers of special drones which are built for the government, approved by the FAA, and specialize in using GPS and cameras to generate highly accurate maps, started helping to map the damage with those drones. It was basically making very useful, near real-time maps showing the floods. You’d think that would be useful to, say, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of helping to coordinate the response to the floods. Instead, FEMA ordered the drones grounded or it would have people from Falcon UAV arrested.[1]
On their website, the company provided the following statement:
Early Saturday morning Falcon UAV was heading up to Lyons to complete a damage assessment mapping flight when we received a call from our Boulder EOC point of contact who notified us that FEMA had taken over operations and our request to fly drones was not only denied but more specifically we were told by FEMA that anyone flying drones would be arrested. Not being one to bow to federal bureaucrats we still went up to Lyons to do a site survey for how we can conduct a mission in the near future to provide an adequate damage assessment to this storm raveged community.
While we were up there we noticed that Civil Air Patrol and private aircraft were authorized to fly over the small town tucked into the base of Rockies. Unfortunately due to the high terrain around Lyons and large turn radius of manned aircraft they were flying well out of a useful visual range and didn’t employ cameras or live video feed to support the recovery effort. Meanwhile we were grounded on the Lyons high school football field with two Falcons that could have mapped the entire town in less than 30 minutes with another few hours to process the data providing a near real time map of the entire town.
Falcon UAV would like to thank the Boulder County EOC and specifically Allen Bishop and Michael Chard (while they were running operations) for their common sense approach to drone operations, working to coordinate the airspace, as well as embracing this technology to help support the recovery effort. In contrast we are very disappointed in FEMAs response to actively prevent the use of UAVs and drone technology when these services were offered for free and at a time when manned helicopters could be used for more critical missions such as evacuations and high mountain search and rescues in inaccessible communities.

Link to this page
To our fellow Colordoans, we understand the recovery efforts are still ongoing and will be followed by a long period of damage assessment. If we can provide volunteer aerial video, photography, or mapping services to any of the affected communities please contact us directly at 303-903-4571.[2]
This week we also reported that residents near Colorado are reporting that the recent flood has taken out multiple fracking sites, releasing toxic chemicals.[3]

[1] FEMA Grounds Private Drones That Were Helping To Map Boulder Floods, Threatens To Arrest Operators – Tech Dirt
[2] Falcon UAV Supports Colorado Flooding Until Grounded by FEMA – Falcon UAV
[3] Colorado Flood Creates Fracking Chemical Spill : Report – Intellihub

Writer Bio:
VibesJG Vibes is an investigative journalist, staff writer and editor. He is also the author of “Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance”, an 87 chapter e-book and is an artist with an established record label. Find him on his Facebook.
original article here

Goodwill Samaritans Threatened With Arrest In Colorado 


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