NCDOT Wins Award For Drone Use In Aftermath Of Hurricane Florence

Aug 23, 2019

Aerial photo from a drone showing ​​I-95 in Lumberton after Hurricane Florence in 2018
Credit NCDOT Division of Aviation

  The N.C. Department of Transportation recently received an award for using drones to manage and document flooding after Hurricane Florence. Fifteen NCDOT drone teams flew more than 200 missions in Eastern North Carolina to take photos and video of floodwaters, storm damage, and traffic incidents. More than 8,000 images were captured, helping agencies make decisions on how to safely address storm recovery and keep the public informed. 

"It goes beyond just being able to put a drone up and saying this road is closed, we need to find another route," said James Pearce, communication officer with NCDOT's Division of Aviation. "We were able, for example, put drones up and see that certain evacuation routes were backing up with traffic and that somebody in Raleigh needed to determine a new route to open up, and then get that information back out to state highway patrol to lead people to safety." 

According to a news release, Hurricane Florence was the first time drones were used to monitor a disaster in the state, and the first time in the U.S. they were used on such a wide scale. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials presented NCDOT with a regional transportation award earlier this week. NCDOT also received recognition for its Hurricane Florence response earlier this year by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.