Soldier uses drone to assist with Hurricane Harvey relief effort

By now, most people are acutely aware of how Hurricane Harvey plowed through the coastal region of Texas Aug. 26. In the wake of his path, the hurricane left a tremendous amount of destruction and devastation to the lives and cities of those most directly affected.

As a result, Texans from all over the state stepped up to offer their assistance through an outpouring of supplies, living essentials and time.

Out of thousands of volunteers in the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, a major assigned to U.S. Army South, found a unique way to offer his support through a special skillset.

Maj. Michael Stump, U.S. Army South fire support officer, received a call and was personally requested by the Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative, or GVEC, to assist in the small town of Ezzell, Texas.

The GVEC learned Stump is licensed as a drone pilot with the Federal Aviation Administration and flies drones during his spare time. Stump was contacted by GVEC a few days after the hurricane disaster and asked to fly his drone in areas where they could not assess the condition of potential downed power lines.

After hearing reports of elderly citizens being stranded in the town with no electricity for more than five days, Stump immediately volunteered his services and spoke with his military leaders about taking personal leave.

“I was glad they called me and heard I had the special skill and means to help out,” Stump said. “I wanted to do what I could and help them get to where they needed to go to restore power for the people who needed it, especially for medical reasons.”

The aerial survey Stump was able to conduct also provided observation to identify any signs of citizens needing assistance and confirm which power lines remained intact. Stump’s support also allowed an aerial survey for route options of an area deemed unsafe for vehicles and personnel to travel.

“I’m happy to have been able to help,” Stump said. “I also volunteer for Comal County Search and Rescue, so this was just another way I could give back and help the distressed people in our state.”

It was later found out that because of Stump’s support, the electric company was able to enter the area safely and efficiently repair and restore electricity to approximately 147 isolated civilians that had been without power or main road access for several days.