Civil Air Patrol

Wisconsin Wing members participate at Hurricane Sandy’s mission base

Photo by Col. Don Haffner – Civil Air Patrol members work at mission base in Concord, N.H. during post-Hurricane Sandy.

Madison, Wis. – The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy reached Civil Air Patrol’s Wisconsin Wing recently when three of its members made the long trip to Concord, N.H. to help staff the mission base.

Colonel Clarence Peters, Wisconsin Wing commander, Lieutenant Colonel Christoffer Trossen, director of emergency services; Major Tim Dixon, East Central Group commander and Colonel Donald Haffner, Great Lakes Region vice-commander, were ready in less than 24 hours of being called to help.

“Our typical day started at 7:00 a.m. and we would finish up anywhere from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., making for long days,” stated Peters.  “As many as 68 of Civil Air Patrol’s planes from throughout the United States have flown here to help at one time or another. Aircrews were taking photos along the 500 miles of coast along Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).”

Colonel Don Haffner, Great Lakes Region vice-commander explained that “the Area Command in Concord, N.H. coordinated the entire mission. The assignments from FEMA and the Army Corp of Engineers came into the Planning Section who then determined what the specific tasking should be in order to accomplish the mission.”

He continued by saying the assignment was handed off to a “Wing Coordinator” who contacted the respective Wing incident commanders.  They in turn gave the assignments to the aircrews. “We coordinated with the wings on all other matters as well.  There were 14 east coast wings and five Great Lakes Region wings involved so far in this mission” said Haffner.

“We flew over 500 sorties which included aerial photographs and flew FEMA and Army Corp of Engineer personnel over many locations. The primary mission required taking photos of a grid approximately six miles by 20 miles with one mile track spacing. The aerial photographer had to take a photo every five seconds for the entire grid” he explained.

That equated to 1,500 photos in one flight. The flight path is reversed in order to photograph what may have been missed. In total, some 3,000 photos are taken in one flight.

“We uploaded approximately 145,000 photos into WMIRS that went to FEMA who in turn used the photos to access the damage from the hurricane” said Haffner.

Thirty-two personnel from the Great Lakes Region have been running the Area Command center since November 4 with supplemental personnel from the Northeast and Mideast Region. Two aircrews each were from Michigan, Illinois and Ohio and one from Indiana. Personnel from Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan helped staff mission base.

Civil Air Patrol’s national headquarters reports that 700 to 750 CAP members are supporting the post-hurricane missions daily throughout the organization’s Northeast and Mideast regions, putting in up to 7,000 man-hours a day.

For more information on the role of Civil Air Patrol in the Hurricane Sandy mission, please visit Civil Air Patrol’s VolunteerNow.

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