Through crowdsourcing, Civil Air Patrol has conducted and completed the largest disaster response in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency this year.

Led by the CAP Geospatial Program, 772 senior members and cadets from 37 CAP wings conducted imagery analysis of structures damaged by Hurricane Ida using the FEMA Crowdsourced Damage Assessment App.

Assessments by CAP members included 27,900 of the 30,300 structures classified for damage review. Organizations using these assessments include FEMA Headquarters, FEMA Recovery, FEMA Region VI, the American Red Cross, the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration and the Small Business Administration.

“Everyone did an awesome job at completing the assessments and helping FEMA,” said John Desmarais, CAP’s director of operations.

The crowdsourcing data was packaged and provided to FEMA Recovery to support the survivors and disaster response. That allowed FEMA to avoid, or at least curtail, the number of inspectors needed for ground sorties — critical given the  COVID-19 situation in Louisiana.

“We’ve been told our efforts will be briefed to the Joint Field Office in Louisiana and then senior leadership of FEMA and higher with the credit going to Civil Air Patrol,” Desmarais said.

CAP’s crowdsourcing efforts were last used in 2017 after Hurricane Marie made landfall in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Lt. Col. Rick Woolfolk, deputy chief of staff for CAP’s Southwest Region, described crowdsourcing as “a way to get civilians involved in reviewing all different sources of photographic imagery to identify damage.”

“Anybody can volunteer, but FEMA would like to have folks that have had some training in photographic intelligence or training in reviewing photos and being able to discern between damage to a structure and trees down that have not impacted a structure,” Woolfolk said. “However, it is not a requirement to have this experience, as FEMA runs volunteers through an abbreviated course to get them started.”