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Civil Air Patrol honored for hurricane relief contributions

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The Civil Air Patrol is scheduled to receive the prestigious Summit Award Sept. 20 for its Hurricanes Katrina and Rita disaster relief contributions. 

This is the highest award the American Society of Association Executives and the Center for Association Leadership's Associations Advance America Committee present to organizations that implement new and innovative community-based programs. 

CAP is one of six Summit Award winners for 2006. Winners were selected from more than 250 entries and from 50 Award of Excellence winners named earlier this year. 

In September 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast, the volunteers of Civil Air Patrol sprang into action. CAP's goal was to save lives and provide disaster relief assistance wherever possible. 

First, the CAP National Headquarters established a round-the-clock command post to coordinate flight crews and search teams with federal, state and local requests for aerial reconnaissance and rescue. In Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, 1,734 CAP members turned out to prep and deploy aircraft, communications equipment and supplies. Volunteers from as far away as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin came to support emergency management agencies and military elements responding to the crisis. 

CAP volunteers used their intensive training to quickly provide digital photos of the damage. This imagery revealed the storms' impact and aided in the safe recovery of victims. In some cases, those surveying the damage were seeing the catastrophe's effect on their own homes. 

On the ground, CAP volunteer ground teams went door-to-door through demolished neighborhoods to find trapped victims. 

When all was said and done, CAP volunteers had surveyed 4,266 homes and made 8,524 contacts with people affected by the hurricanes. They flew more than 1,848 hours and contributed 35,495 hours of assistance to the effort. 

"This award truly speaks to who we are and what we are all about as a volunteer organization, and I am delighted that this story is being told and honored in such a prestigious way," said Maj. Gen. Antonio Pineda, the CAP commander. 

CAP is a Congressionally chartered, federally supported, nonprofit corporation that serves as the official auxiliary of the Air Force. Its three main functions are emergency services, aerospace education and cadet training.

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