The North Dakota Civil Air Patrol works alongside the Department of Emergency Service to assist in flood monitoring efforts. Our Malique Rankin joined CAP as they surveyed the river for rising water levels.
Captain Larry Regorrah is the North Dakota Civil Air Patrol Wing Director of Emergency Services.
He’s in charge of disaster relief missions.
Cpt. Larry Regorrah; ND Wing Director of Emergency Services: “2,500 feet above ground level. That gives us the best overall view for the video camera.”
When water levels rise, CAP takes to the skies to get a bird’s eye view of flooding.
Cpt. Larry Regorrah; ND Wing Director of Emergency Services: “It starts at the local level when the local emergency manager needs a better look at what’s happening in their communities or upstream of their communities or even downstream of their communities. They will contact the department of emergency services and request an overflight from the civil air patrol.”
Captain Regorrah says knowledge is power when it comes to disaster response.
Because of the work his crews do, counties can decide if sandbags or evacuations are in order.
Cpt. Larry Regorrah; ND Wing Director of Emergency Services: “What we do in situations like flooding, we can go upstream and see whats there. We can say hey we have ice jams, we have flooding it’s coming your way. This tributary has extra water in it, it’s heading towards your municipality. That allows people to prepare their homes, or in worst case scenarios, evacuate if necessary.”
The Civil Air Patrol doesn’t just help respond to emergencies and disaster in North Dakota. During Hurricane Harvey, Texas’ CAP wing was overwhelmed and overworked. They requested help from the national headquarters and members of North Dakota’s wing responded, helping in flood monitoring efforts. They’ve even flown into Canada to help during the Souris River floods.
Cpt. Larry Regorrah; ND Wing Director of Emergency Services: “That actually took cooperation from the Canadian national government and the US state department, because this is a US Air Force aircraft and you can’t just fly an airforce airplane into another nation’s airspace.”
All civil air patrolmen, like Cpt. Regorrah, do their jobs on a volunteer basis. It’s because of what they do, that we can stay safe.
When CAP takes to the skies, they take photos and videos and upload them to youtube so emergency managers can assess the river levels.
The Civil Air Patrol can also be called to help in search and rescue missions. They use infrared technology, taking to the skies at night, searching for missing people. Their cameras light up when they pass over hot objects, for search and rescue, live bodies appear bright red. We spoke with a mission pilot on how efficiently their crews can work.
David Nyhus; CAP Mission Pilot: “Because we can see into places that would take folks on the ground hours and hours to walk or drive through. We can scan a square mile in far less time than it would take folks on the ground to do it.”
When CAP is needed for search and rescue, local law enforcement reaches out to the air force, who then sends local pilots on missions as needed.
Civil air patrol is a branch of the air force, but it also has a cadet program that is a part of its nonprofit function. We spoke with some of the students in the program, who not only learn about the roles CAP plays but the life lessons it teaches them.
Dawson Livinggood; CAP Cadet: “Everything, it’s teaching you the smallest things from how to take care of yourself daily, dress properly, make yourself into a better, more presentable person.”
The program is open to kids age 12 to 18. To sign your kids up, click here.