First responders use drones in Harvey rescues

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Monday, September 4, 2017
First responders use drones in Harvey rescues
An aerial view of the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.

As Texas and Louisiana struggled with major floods since Hurricane Harvey hit hard last week, dumping some 50 inches of rain across the region, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) quickly issued drone operating permits to allow rescue workers, government agencies, first responders and journalists to view the natural disaster from above.

These waivers let specially sanctioned operators fly in the airspace, but operators still have to follow the basic regulations for small drones: flying below 400 feet and within the pilot's line of sight, and not over large crowds of people. Drones are deployable within minutes, and can enter areas that put emergency responders at risk.

In addition to emergency response, public utility groups are assessing damage to the levees and other areas in Houston using drone surveillance.