Photographing Natural Disasters – An Unwelcome but Necessary Task

North Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. Natural Disaster Aerial Photo Company

We are on occasion called upon to take aerial photographs and videographs, most often the latter, of areas where natural disasters have occurred. We are not ambulance chasers, and doing this type of work more often than not leaves us with unpleasant feelings. It sometimes leaves us with a sense of awe as well, with respect to the powerful forces nature is sometimes capable of mustering.

Nevertheless, the work we do in this area is quite often of significant importance. The images we provide are rarely based on requests from the media. The media has its own sources, and if you look closely you will sometimes observe that the images are not of the highest quality, and often have been taken to support a 15-second sound bite.


 We Provide Post-disaster Services

The services we provide are most often those requested by planning and disaster recovery agencies, and on occasion by search and rescue organizations as well. Private businesses that have experienced extensive damage have come to us when they are in need of data and information for post-disaster planning or insurance purposes.

The types of images we provide in situations such as these often need to be supplemented by recently taken or ‘before’ images to better assess the extent of the damage, or in some instance to better dramatize the extent of the damage. In heavily urbanized areas, such as those located in the eastern portion of Northern Virginia, recent images are normally easy to find, especially vertical images from which exact locations are easier to pinpoint. The more valuable images however tend to be oblique images, especially low-angle oblique images, which often give an excellent depiction of damage done to structures. ‘Before’ oblique images can sometimes be difficult to come by, making comparison in these cases a sometimes difficult chore. When a natural disaster strikes, be it a tornado or fire, the extent of damage is most often quite apparent, and comparisons are not always necessary.


We Also Provide Disaster Preparation and Prevention Services

Aerial photographs can also be useful in preventing natural disasters, or more accurately, in preparing for the possibility of an event occurring. An example of this would be taking aerial photographs of an area that has been deforested and is on a slope. Areas such as these are subject to erosion, and on occasion devastating landslides, such as the one recently occurring in the Washington State that buried a portion of the town of Oso. Since that event, a number of locations having landslide potential have undergone extensive studies supported by aerial photographs and videos taken by both state government agencies and private photography businesses.

This area of the country is less likely to encounter devastating landslides than is the more mountainous west, but we are still subject to damaging winds, flooding, fire, and occasional ice storms, any or all of which are capable of causing widespread damage and destruction. Whereas taking photographic images of damage others have suffered is often a less than pleasant task, taking photographs that support planning efforts to prevent or deal with catastrophes are assignments we welcome. If you can make use of our services, whether in support of damage assessment, preparation, or prevention, please give us a call. We will be more than happy to do whatever is needed to meet your specific requirements or to advise you of the types of images that might best suit your needs.