Maryland volunteers flew 30 missions over Southeast to assess Hurricane Matthew damage

Maryland volunteers flew 30 missions over Southeast to assess Hurricane Matthew damage

The Maryland Wing of the Civil Air Patrol flew 30 missions over the Southeastern United States this week to help authorities assess the damage wrought by Hurricane Matthew, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

Twelve crew members and four aircraft have returned to Maryland after flying more than 70 hours over North and South Carolina, spokeswoman Maj. Julie S. Holley said. The volunteers captured high-resolution pictures to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local authorities assess the storm's impact and decide where to deploy resources.

Hurricane Matthew, a category 1 hurricane when it made U.S. landfall in South Carolina on Saturday, has been blamed in at least three dozen deaths in the Southeast. Hundreds more died in the Caribbean.

The Civil Air Patrol, a nonprofit, all-volunteer auxiliary to the Air Force, is called up after disasters to fly its distinctive red-white-and-blue planes and provide detailed aerial photographs to help authorities get a sense of how widespread problems are.

Members participate in search-and-rescue efforts, keep an eye on boaters on the Chesapeake Bay, and respond to natural disasters.

The Civil Air Patrol has 56,000 members nationwide and a fleet of 550 aircraft. The Maryland Wing has 1,400 members and operates about a dozen aircraft.

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