After Irma: Drone pilot returns from Caribbean relief mission - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

After Irma: Drone pilot returns from Caribbean relief mission

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – Last week News 8 featured a local drone pilot who flew down to the Caribbean to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

After returning to San Diego, Drew Goodwin shared some of his remarkable footage.

Goodwin works with Emergency Response Drones – which merges a passion for humanitarian aid, decades of experience in emergency response with emerging UAV technology and GIS custom mapping software to deliver real time threat assessment and situational awareness to consumer professionals in the field.

Goodwin traveled to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to help rescue workers check remote locations.

“All the greenery is gone – 80 percent of homes were heavily damaged whether by wind or water. Some areas had major flooding,” he said.

Soon after arriving in the disaster area, Goodwin’s mission was changed to delivering from the airport.

“There were some places you really could not get to because the roads were so blocked, but we could send a drone up to inspect and know if we needed to go further or everything was okay,” said Goodwin.

Five residents were killed in the storm. Many others had their homes destroyed with government officials predicting it will take months to rebuild.

“What I encountered was an attitude of ‘we are going to do it. We are going to rebuild and help each other and it’s going to happen – it may take a while but we are going to recover,’” said Goodwin.

By Monday, Goodwin had to land his drones for good as Hurricane Maria made its way to the island.

With flights cancelled, he met up with another San Diegan and they evacuated to Puerto Rico in a small boat.

“We just decided to make the trip, island hopping across to San Juan – keeping the island on our side all the way to San Juan,” he said.

Goodwin said he wanted to just get home or he would have to wait another week potentially before he could return.

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