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CBP Unmanned Aircraft System Charts Flood Waters in Red River Valley Flood

Release Date: 
May 19, 2010

Grand Forks, N.D. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) completed more than 30 hours of flight time mapping the flood water in and around the Red River Valley Flood Areas. The three UAS mission flights were in support of North Dakota and Minnesota emergency managers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the request of the State of North Dakota.

The remotely piloted Predator B UAS mapped over 3,200 miles along the flooded tributaries and basins in Minnesota and North Dakota. This includes the mapping of more than 180 miles in the Red River Valley of Eastern North Dakota through the Missouri River Basin in Western North Dakota. The UAS provided streaming video and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mapping, and change analysis of areas affected by the flood, such as levee integrity and ice damming. The UAS provided streaming video for real-time situational awareness to federal, state and local agencies working at the North Dakota and Minnesota emergency operations centers.

"The UAS mapping mission's captures real time imagery which has been extremely helpful for all agencies involved in this flood," said Michael P. Corcoran, Director of Air Operations, CBP UAS Operations Center - North Dakota. "We SAR-mapped most of the Red River Valley, including more than 600 points of interest, to include the critical infrastructure, flood impacted areas and monitoring the health of the levee and dike systems."

An example of this important and helpful imagery is of the gigantic ice dams located at the bridge located at Oslo, N.D. The very detailed imagery data is utilized to map these flooded areas and has proven to be a great asset in monitoring the flood conditions.

This is the second time FEMA has asked for UAS support from CBP. CBP also provided UAS support during the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season. During that time, CBP A&M conducted multiple UAS missions in support of FEMA as Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, and Tropical Storm Hannah, hit the Gulf and Southeast Coast of the United States. CBP UAS flew more than 75 hours, conducted surveillance of more than 250 miles of coastline, and took images of 167 natural and man-made structures at the request of FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Predator B UAS is capable of flying at 240 knots for 18 hours at an altitude of up to 50,000 feet. Since 2004, CBP UAS aircraft have flown more than 3,000 hours, directly contributing to 4,766 arrests and the seizure of 22,823 pounds of marijuana in support of the Department of Homeland Security's border security mission.

CBP deployed a UAS to Grand Forks, N.D., for border security operations in December 2008. CBP Air and Marine Assistant Commissioner Michael C. Kostelnik, North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven, Sen. Byron Dorgan and Rep. Earl Pomeroy officially opened the UAS Operations Center - North Dakota at Grand Forks Air Force Base on February 16, 2009.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017