CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC) — Houston is overwhelmed when it comes to search and rescue efforts, so they are seeking help from the skies above.
Not from helicopters, but drones.
A company called DroneUp is mobilizing a team of independent volunteer drone operators to go to Houston, and starting Thursday, provide much needed aerial video and photos.
It could potentially be the largest humanitarian drone response in U.S. history.
Up until now the FAA had not permitted any independent drone operators to help in the search and rescue efforts.
“They don’t know who these drone operators are, they don’t know what kind of certifications they have, they don’t know how to communicate with them,” said Tom Walker, CEO of DroneUp.
This where Walker steps in. He is the middle man between the government and independent drone operators across the country.
“We know who the drone operators are, we know their training, their certification, we know their experience,” said Walker. “And most importantly our system gives a complete picture of air space, where the drones are, where the fixed wing aircraft are.”
After meeting with a number of high ranking government officials over the last two days Walker and his team have been given the assignment of overseeing all independent volunteer drone operations in Houston.
“Our number one focus down there is to be an asset to the search and rescue operations, not to be a problem,” said Walker.
There are about 325 independent drone operators ready to launch in Houston alone and potentially thousands more waiting around the country.
“You actually bring a picture to the emergency response that you don’t have now,” said Walker.