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Pentagon Begins Surveillance Flights Over Hurricane-Affected Texas

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On Wednesday, the US Department of Defense marshalled a Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft and one Boeing E-3 Sentry airborne warning plane to roam Texan airspace and support humanitarian missions as the chaos following Hurricane Harvey continues to unfold, DoDBuzz’s Oriana Pawlyk reports.

Thankfully, Americans don’t have to worry about Predator or Reaper drones circling above conducting surveillance operations, a spokeswoman for the US Air Force told DoDBuzz – at least not yet. “We are not using any MQ-1 [Predator] or MQ-9 [Reaper] assets at this time,” Mary McHale of the 1st Air Force operations center said.

The Sentry and Poseidon drones, deployed to collect data on the record-setting floods in southern Texas, help keep air traffic running smoothly, and provide situational updates, air force officials said.

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The day before the surveillance operations were underway, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters he was implementing a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. since some people “may be inclined to take advantage of this situation,” noting that a comparable curfew imposed during Hurricane Ike in 2008 “prevented burglaries, looting.”

No citations or arrests were recorded during the first two days of the curfew, Turner reported via Twitter Thursday morning.  

A horde of other search and rescue aircraft have flown over Texas to facilitate identification of storm victims while other aircraft have transported “relief cargo and support personnel” into the affected areas, a USAF spokesman said Wednesday.

Harvey hit the central coast of Texas on August 25. The death toll climbed past 30 by August 31, and Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said at a press briefing the count is expected to rise.

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