Civil Air Patrol’s response to deadly brush fires in Maui continued Aug. 13 as a Hawaii Wing aircrew broadcast a public service announcement informing people on the island they could obtain food, water, and supplies at Napili Plaza in Lahaina.
The message to those located on the ground between the Kaanapali and Kapalua areas was simple: “Attention, attention, food, water, supplies, Napili Plaza.”
The announcement was made using a CAP aircraft’s loudspeaker system. The aircrew consisted of Capt. Paul Hirst, mission pilot, and senior member Christine Sealing, mission observer, who flew out of Hilo International Airport heading toward West Maui. Hirst and Sealing belong to the Lyman Field Composite Squadron.
“Civil Air Patrol always stands ready to serve our community, state, and nation,” said Lt. Col. Dana McLaughlin, Hawaii Wing incident commander. “In this difficult time for our Maui ohana [family], we are honored to share our tools, training, and resources.
“Even when faced with adversity, unity and support prevail.”
Acting as a Total Force partner and official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, CAP helps the Air Force rapidly respond to nonmilitary threats domestically in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage, and provide humanitarian assistance.
Responding to a request from the state’s emergency management agency, the Hawaii Wing conducted two aerial surveys Aug. 9 to document the extensive damage via still photography and video.
At the same time the Hawaii Wing was aloft, the CAP Geospatial Team used open-source aerial photography and video, in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to make critical geospatial damage assessments on affected homes and businesses, primarily in Lahaina and Kula.
“This is the 12th disaster the Geospatial Team has made use of open-source imagery to quickly make damage assessments as other imagery collection processes are in motion,” said Maj. Scott Kaplan, CAP Geospatial Program director. “This new process has been effective in directing the deployment of relief, as well as providing earlier, accurate, and actionable information to key decision-makers.”
To date, more than 2,200 structures have been identified as destroyed or damaged.
The combined efforts of the Hawaii Wing and Geospatial Team have helped resulted in the swift issuance of a presidential major disaster declaration. The Maui fire is the deadliest in the U.S. in more than a century, with 93 people reported killed so far. The 2018 Camp Fire that destroyed the California town of Paradise in California claimed 85 lives.