Hurricane victims calling on Chesapeake-based drone company for help

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — More than 400 drone pilots have flown more than 2,000 humanitarian drone missions in southeast Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Drone Up, a Chesapeake-based app, is helping bring piece of mind to flood victims by flying missions like finding pets and checking on flooded homes.

Jim Harenchar, chief marketing officer, says the app is already shifting their focus to Florida and South Carolina, which are in the likely path of the now deadly Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Guide | Interactive Hurricane Tracker

Drone video shows the unimaginable loss on the streets in and around Houston. The heartbreaking views, according to Harenchar, are actually helping people recover from the storm.

“We have individuals who had neighbors that were elderly that they had left the area … but they weren’t sure the status of the elderly people.”

“We had individuals who had cattle or individuals who had horses that were left out on the fields because of an immediate need to evacuate,” he said. “They wanted to know what the status of their animals were.”

So far, 5,000 pilots have signed up nationwide.

Chesapeake drone company hoping to deploy in Texas for search & rescue

The mobile application can track drones in real-time and can send information directly to agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Harenchar says Harvey put Drone Up on the map.

“The phone has been ringing … consistently everyday with either a federal, state or local authority or a commercial operation that is interested in having us deploy in some fashion,” said Harenchar.

Drone Up says most of the humanitarian relief flights have flown at less than 150 feet, which gives rescue helicopters and other aircraft most of the airspace.

“We’re here to help. We are not here to be a hindrance and we certainly do not want to be a distraction.”

What they do want is a community of pilots who want to help their neighbors. Click here to learn more.

At this point, Drone Up is solely focused on relief efforts, but they hope to eventually roll the program out nationwide for missing people or pets and to help insurance companies do comprehensive insurance adjustments.