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Civil Air Patrol plays key role in hurricane disaster relief

SAN ANTONIO -- With Hurricane Rita having passed through Texas and Louisiana, Civil Air Patrol units from the two states are working to provide aerial damage assessments, transporting officials and supplies, and conducting search and rescue missions.

The CAP has flown approximately 40 missions the past few days, about half of the Air Force total.

“We are gathering critical digital imagery for the specific need of assessing the damage in the areas affected by Rita,” said Maj. Owen Younger at the Texas CAP Wing Incident Command Post in Addison, Texas. “We have lots of volunteers and cadets working together to get the job done.”

Currently, CAP is staging 12 aircraft and crews out of Dallas Mission Base in Addison and from Stinson Field, near San Antonio.

“We have initiated our task of transporting members of the Army Corps of Engineers on damage assessment missions. Of particular interest is assessing the flood damage in east and southeast Texas,” said 1st Lt. Arthur Woodgate, a Texas CAP spokesman.

Prior to Hurricane Rita’s arrival, CAP units began positioning ground teams to safe areas as far west of the projected storm track as possible in order to be ready for immediate post-storm assistance.

“We were successful in moving our aircraft out of the storm path, therefore we didn’t lose any aircraft,” Lieutenant Woodgate said.

In response to Hurricane Katrina, CAP units in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama supported more than 670 air missions during which CAP pilots flew more than 1,300 hours. These missions included search and rescue flights, emergency official transportation and impact assessments.

CAP, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, performs 95 percent of all continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center located at Langley Air Force Base, Va. More than 56,000 volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. And members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the almost 25,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing "missions for America" for more than 60 years.

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