MARYVILLE (WATE) – In the weeks since Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the islands of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, members of the Volunteer State came to help.
The Tennessee Wing Civil Air Patrol have been sending small teams for seven to 10 day missions to Puerto Rico. Their goal: to take as many aerial photos as they can so FEMA can identify what areas are in need of aid more immediately.
The results are powerful images with a bird’s eye view.
“I was amazed by the devastation. You cannot look anywhere on the island without seeing total destruction.” said Major Clarence Juneau.
Juneau spent 10 days in Puerto Rico. He says in teams of three, two pilots and a photographer, would spend 3-5 hours at a time in the air taking photos. That count totaling over 80,000 photos of the damage.
Those photos were uploaded online and FEMA is using them as crowd sourcing, Juneau says, allowing the public to rate the photos by how serious they think the damage is based on the photos they see.
“Arriving on the island in San Juan there was absolutely no electricity. No traffic lights. Majority of the traffic signs were missing or turned where you could not read them. Street signs were missing,” said Major Juneau.
Juneau says he was surprised by the positive spirits of so many Puerto Ricans, even during devastating times, he says he wants it to be a reminder.
“[People in Knoxville] should keep in mind that only time will solve problems for the people of Puerto Rico. They are very resilient,” said Major Juneau.
Friday is the last day mainland Civil Air Patrol teams were scheduled to be in Puerto Rico. However, they are prepared and ready to go back to support Puerto Rico’s Civil Air Patrol units at any time.