Burgum praising "innovative" use of drones in emergency storm response

Courtesy of: North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum
Courtesy of: North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum

(North Dakota) -- North Dakota leadership is praising the use of drones to assist recovery and infrastructure repair efforts in Divide and Burke counties.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum says Unmanned Aircraft systems (UAS) have played a critical role in locating downed power poles, assessing damage done to utility infrastructure, and helping crews prioritize efforts for recovery and repairs.

“North Dakotans are known for their innovation and resilience,” Burgum said. “In difficult times like this, our citizens and neighbors come together to find new solutions to challenging problems. We’re leveraging the investment the state has made in this UAS infrastructure to help workers identify damage and repair ground-based infrastructure. Utilizing our strength in aviation will help citizens and communities on the ground.”

The drones are working with the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives and are supporting manned aircraft run by Montana-Dakota Utilities. Crews say the damage could take days or possibly weeks to fully restore, even with work being done around the clock. UAS providers say drones play a pivital role in events like these in the state's recovery plans.

“This is one of the primary applications we envisioned in creating this UAS network,” said Trevor Woods, NPUASTS executive director. “We hope this nimble response can help the state’s residents in getting life-saving power restored, and benefit areas and businesses affected by the natural disaster. For such a massive undertaking in fixing lines and infrastructure, we know that locating damage in difficult-to-travel-to areas saves time and assets that can’t afford to be wasted.”

You can click here to see areas currently affected by power outages.