Hurricane Mathew was the first Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in close to a decade. Earlier this month, the tropical cyclone battered not only South America and the Caribbean region but also the entire East Coast of the United States, including Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. Almost 500,000 South Carolina residents were left without power during the hurricane, Charleston experienced a bad case of flooding, and various roads in the state were left completely submerged in water for days. North Carolina had it even worse as 680,000 people were cut from the power grid in early October and 26 deaths directly caused by the tropical cyclone have been confirmed. The damage in the Carolinas is estimated in billions of dollars and everyone involved is still in the process of recovering from this catastrophe.
The largest US wireless carrier Verizon is also among parties affected by the disaster. The company is currently examining damage suffered by its infrastructure in North and South Carolina. Given how a lot of the company's cell sites in those two states are located in areas that aren't exactly easy to reach, Verizon decided to facilitate the process by utilizing drones. The aircraft in question is operated by a Washington-based drone company Measure UAS which has been tasked with inspecting affected areas and assessing the damage which Verizon's infrastructure has incurred. Verizon's aerial surveys started earlier this month and this approach already proved to be extremely effective as the carrier reported that more than 99% of its cell sites in North Carolina and South Carolina have been fully operational as of last Friday. That's certainly an impressive number given the devastating nature of Hurricane Matthew.
Even if we forget about this report for a second, it's well-known that Verizon is no stranger to drone technology. The US wireless carrier has been helping the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) create a drone surveillance network for a couple of years now and has financed a lot of research and development related to unmanned aerial vehicle systems. The company also isn't investing in this technology solely for its own profit as it has recently announced an initiative whose goal is to produce drones connected to its LTE network which would assist people during natural disasters.