Hawaii Wing Civil Air Patrol cadets collect data after Hurricane Lane

Maui Composite Squadron cadets discuss their findings with Squadron Command Maj. Charles Dryden at a washed-out bridge on Hana Highway. -- Capt. Chantal Lonergan photo

Hawaii Wing Civil Air Patrol cadets formed the bulk of a Ground Photography Team on Maui Tuesday, gathering photographic evidence of the flash-flood impact resulting from Hurricane Lane, while an Oahu cadet filled an essential role on the Big Island as mission radio operator at the Kona Incident Command Post.

The Maui Composite Squadron cadets were led by Squadron Command Maj. Charles Dryden and Capt. Chantal Lonergan, the Hawaii Wing inspector general. The cadets were Senior Master Sgts. Xiana Crenshaw and Jaden Pladera, Master Sgt. Kaiya Meier, Staff Sgt. Arnubi Gomes and Senior Airman Jonah Wilsey-Botelho.

The Ground Photography Team was sent out to examine and photograph four locations identified as flood-impact areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering a distance of over 50 miles. FEMA has asked members of the Hawaii Wing and the general public to download the agency’s app to their smartphones and use it to take photos of high-water marks from receding floodwaters and water “wreck lines” left by flash floods.

In an email to Incident Command Post personnel, FEMA Geospatial Information Officer Christopher Vaughan applauded CAP’s contributions to the FEMA mission, writing, “The deployment of CAP ground teams to collect HWM’s will drastically change how quickly we (GIS) can generate initial flood extents following impact.”

In Kona, Cadet Capt. Zachary Simbajon was the Mission Radio Operator for the Incident Command Post. Simbajon maintained communication between the Incident Command Post and the Maui Ground Photography Team in order to monitor the status of their operations, their location and their welfare. The Maryknoll Cadet Squadron member also served as a mission staff assistant to the Incident Command Team, doing whatever tasks would allow adult team members to keep up with phone calls, correspondence and customer requests.

Cadet Capt. Zachary Simbajon serves as Mission Radio Operator for the Kona Incident Command Post. He is a member of the Maryknoll Cadet Squadron. -- Capt. Jen Herrington photo

Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer organization whose mission is to support America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development and promotion of air, space and cyberpower. The cadet youths throughout Hawaii make up a large proportion of Hawaii Wing’s trained ground team members.

Maj. Dryden praised the cadets’ performance Tuesday stating, “The cadets executed the mission well. They faced and overcame a number of challenges to help make the mission a success. One of the biggest challenges was incorporating multiple technology platforms so that the team could translate location data received from the FEMA tasking into viable routes using available roads and paths. They also practiced radio communications, and at one site, they interviewed local residents affected by the storm.”

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search-and-rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually.