As tropical storm Harvey continues its sixth straight day of havoc in southern Texas, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warns amateur drone pilots: Stay out of the sky over Houston.
That’s despite some calls, even apparently from hospitals, for drone pilots to assist with assessing surrounding areas for feasible routes so supplies can be trucked in (or patients safely moved out). This tweet ran yesterday:
— SABJ_kmosbrucker (@SABJtech) August 29, 2017
The FAA worries drones might interfere with rescue and recovery. But that’s not to say drones won’t be useful when the water – as much as 48 inches of rainfall in some areas – starts to recede. A spokesman for Allstate Insurance told Slate magazine that “this will be the widest scale event that we’ve used drones for to date.” Justin Herndon says the company expects to conduct thousands of drone flights a week to inspect damage.
It’s pretty clear from the following footage out of Houston that it will be much faster, safer and cheaper for claims adjusters to rely on drones to inspect the widespread damage Harvey has wrought:
The New York Times says Harvey may inflict as much as $30 billion US in damages on homeowners – and only 40 per cent of that may be covered by insurance.
But few would suggest Houston won’t eventually recover.
Compare that to the chaos caused by the typhoon and nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan six years ago. Tetsuro Takehana, a photographer with the Asahi Shimbun newspaper took his drone to photograph communities near the crippled reactor earlier this month.
Residents may have been driven out, but his videos show nature moving in, virtually taking over Fukushima’s parking lots and entire homes. It all seems so much wilder than just two years before.
The video recalls drone footage from other communities too dangerous to visit except vicariously from drone height. Here, check out The Wall Street Journal’s drone videos of Chernobyl, Ukraine:
and yesterday’s CNN images of Raqqa, Syria
These videos, and others, suggest that when disaster visits, our lasting memories of a community’s plight may be the long deliberate views taken by eyes in the sky. Certainly, such imagery reveals the scale of the devastation in way impossible for a ground-based camera to capture.
If you would like to donate some money to help out with the immense challenges facing those coping with Harvey, this New York Times article will point you in the direction of legitimate charities – and ensure you don’t get scammed.