MOORE, Okla. -- New information is coming in on the damage caused by the tornadoes in Oklahoma. At the request of the Department of Emergency Management for the state of Oklahoma, Civil Air Patrol is flying the tornado paths capturing high-quality imagery to assess the damage from the storms. CAP is also deploying ground teams to go block by block, house by house and document the destruction.
“The damage is difficult to see and process,” said Maj. Sam Ory, ground team leader for the initial response. “Before you get here and witness it, you really can’t imagine a storm causing this destruction.” The damage path in the Moore vicinity is estimated to be 17 miles in length and at its peak was almost 2 miles wide, with debris scattered more than 3 miles from ground zero.
CAP’s Oklahoma Wing has flown five sorties taking several hundred digital photos at the request of the state. Wing aircrews flew over the track of the tornados that hit the Shawnee and Edmond areas on Sunday, and are currently flying sorties over the track of the storm that hit Moore and surrounding communities on Monday afternoon.
Two more sorties were flown today.
Ground teams from CAP’s Oklahoma and Kansas wings, at the request of Federal Emergency Management Agency, are taking images of every residence affected by the storm. CAP has additional ground teams responding from the Texas and Arkansas wings to assist in that task. CAP members from Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Missouri and Pennsylvania have offered to help as well.
Immediately following the tornadoes, members of CAP’s Flying Castle Composite Squadron, Edmond Composite Squadron and Cleveland County Composite Squadron responded in numbers. They assisted in search and rescue in the hardest-hit areas and provided temporary communications support to the city of Moore and logistics support in the staging areas.
“More than 100 members from four wings are assisting with air and ground team efforts, and the number of requests is growing by the hour,” said Lt. Col. Russell Davis, CAP’s incident commander for the Oklahoma tornado response. “CAP’s unpaid professionals are ever vigilant, trained and ready to serve our fellow citizens when disaster strikes. Additional CAP volunteers from across the nation will join forces with us, as needed, to get the job done.”
In addition to their flights for the state, members of the Oklahoma Wing are providing air and ground sorties to a combat camera team from Air Combat Command, which plans to do a story on military support of the ongoing relief efforts.
Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization chartered by Congress in 1941 with a 501(c)3 designation and pre-dates the Air Force. CAP consists of 61,000 unpaid professional members nationwide, and operates a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 26,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. CAP is a force multiplier to the Air Force CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for 71 years. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans.
Dozens of personnel still performing photo damage assessment of homes, public buildings and businesses more than a week after a twister ripped through the town of about 45,000 residents.
Civil Air Patrol cadets from the Alabama and West Virginia wings make up two of the 100 teams that will compete this weekend in the Team America Rocketry Challenge in The Plains, VA.