WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published April 19, 2011, 08:39 PM

Border Protection Aiding in Flood Fight

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are not only flying missions overseas and patrolling our nation's borders, they're also providing aerial reconnaissance of North Dakota's flooded areas.

Border Protections Q-9 Predators are flying over flooded areas taking video and pictures to try and predict continuing flooding in our area.

"The yellow area indicates an increase for instance with this dam, the presence of more water being released form the dam," said radar imagery analyst Arnold Gunn.

Gunn is looking at an image of Lake Ashtabula Dam taken by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

"I can somewhat accurately predict what areas of the river or dam are going to be impacted the most and pass that on to the higher-up's so they can disseminate that information to people who need to know to move their resources to where they need to be," said Gunn.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is adapting its border patrol mission to flood fighting. A UAV pilot and sensor operator are flying the same flight path they took Monday to get the same image they took the day before.

"We fly two flights, a baseline flight where we collect the imagery, then on top of that the next day we fly a second flight at a later time, usually 24 hours later. We superimpose two images and the changes that occur between the two is known as change detection," said Grand Forks Air & Marine Divisions Director John Priddy.

It may not be the job they are used to, but they all know how important it is to keep up their level of performance.

"If we can help them to prevent loss so they can sustain their economic lifestyle or even protect their children. It's very important from that standpoint to do work that it is meaningful," said Gunn.

After the video and images are analyzed, they are placed on a website for emergency responders on latest flood information.