FSU students are using drones to map Bay County before potential natural disasters can occur

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Students are using drone footage to map out land before natural disasters can occur

BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — FSU students in Tallahassee are working on a final project and they have partnered with Bay County Emergency Management to do it.

Students are using drones to map and model infrastructure from the sky.

“A pre-disaster look at some of the different critical infrastructure in the community,” said FSU Unmanned Aircraft systems student Sierra Perna.

Once the drone went up, Perna and her classmates were able to capture the lay of the land before a disaster disturbs an area.

“Use that pre-disaster imagery as kind of your baseline of what everything looks like, and then the post-disaster gives you a solid comparison of what actually happened,” said Perna.

While these drones are flying they are collecting aerial information and images of buildings.

“This way you’ve got footage in advance to kind of say, this is what it looked like before, and then if a storm comes through, this is the damage that has occurred,” said Bay County Emergency Management Division Chief Frankie Lumm.

Lumm said drone footage like this, makes applying for FEMA grants easier after a hurricane, just like Hurricane Michael. Especially in areas not easily accessible due to safety concerns. 

“We are working with Florida State to come out and they are going to redo Mexico Beach and Lynn Haven after Michael to kind of see what it looks like a few years later, and we are going to kind of match that footage up to,” said Lumm.

Lumm hopes seeing aerial views of areas once impacted by Hurricane Michael, will show residents you can rebuild. There can be a positive side to a storm.

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