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South Carolina Air National Guard's Eagle Vision IV provides flood support to Colorado

An image of the Fort Lupton, Colo. area.  The red polygons indicate flooded areas or bodies of water.

An image of the Fort Lupton, Colo. area. The red polygons indicate flooded areas or bodies of water.

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- Recently the members of the 169th Communications Flight Eagle Vision IV (EV4) Mobile Ground Satellite Station, located at McEntire JNGB, S.C., provided images to support the flood recovery efforts taking place in Colo.

The flood damage spanned over 2,000 square miles across 15 counties, stranding more than 1,000 residents and damaging or destroying as many as19,000 homes, according to authorities.

So far, the floods have claimed the lives of eight people and 600 are still unaccounted for. Roadways and bridges have been destroyed since the flooding began on Sept. 11, making the recovery effort that much more difficult. On Sept. 15, President Obama signed a major disaster declaration, ordering federal aid for the flood-ravaged state.

Due to the heavy cloud cover over the flooded areas, Master Sgt. Eddie McManus and Staff Sgt. Dennis McDougal, EV4 Data Acquisition Segment (DAS) operators, worked with RADARSAT 2 to acquire cloud-penetrating radar images. Once the images were obtained, they handed them over to Master Sgt. Troy Wilkerson, Data Integration Segment (DAS) operator.

Wilkerson decided to apply a technique that involves overlapping an aerial image with a transparent radar image. He called his colleague and subject matter expert, Mr. Derrold Holcomb of Intergraph Government Solutions. Holcomb assisted Wilkerson with the process of interpreting the radar images to identify the flooded areas. Once that was accomplished, Wilkerson highlighted the flooded boundaries with bright red. Next, he made the radar image transparent enough to overlap over an aerial image of the same area. The final product clearly marked all bodies of water in a bright red boundary.

Wilkerson distributed the final product to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (A2), Air National Guard Readiness Center (ANGRC) and the state of Colorado Intelligence Staff (J2). The feedback he received was tremendous. The Colo. J2, Lt. Col. Stephanie Patrick, was very appreciative and asked for any follow-up products. Mr. Glen Bethel, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has also asked for the images so that he can potentially identify any crop damage.

The Eagle Vision Program consists of five DoD-deployable, commercial satellite ground stations that are located in S.C., Ala., Calif., Hawaii and Germany. They each provide customers with near real-time commercial, satellite imagery of locations within their 1,300 mile visibility circle.

Eagle Vision stations are used to collect and disseminate imagery to various government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and USGS during natural disasters. They also support mission planning, time-critical targeting and non-war related operations.
Because Eagle Vision stations have the capability to quickly acquire near real-time unclassified satellite imagery, they are highly sought after and utilized during most natural disasters within their visibility circle. The EV4 teams most often provide images for events such as fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. They have supported first responder efforts during hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, the earthquakes in Japan and Haiti, as well as tornado and fires in the mid-west. Other than hurricanes, these events usually occur quickly and with no warning. This requires the team to be prepared to react and work unplanned hours.