LAKELAND, Fla. -- As Florence continues to drench the Carolinas, hurricane hunters from the Bay area are now helping with recovery.

  • Hurricane hunters help with Florence
  • NOAA's King Air 35 flying out Lakeland
  • Tracking, mapping of coastal areas began last year

Responding to the storm actually began a year ago at Lakeland Linder Airport.

There, NOAA's King Air 35, led by Lt. Rick De Triquet has been taking off and mapping coastal areas all over.

"It's a year-long effort, De Triquet said. "We're out all over the country and the Caribbean taking photos."

Those images are taken by high-tech cameras and help show before and after pictures and maps of storm-damaged areas.

"It can really help coordinate the response and see what kind of damage was actually done," De Triquet said.

One of the things that makes the King Air so crucial to storm recovery is that it can actually send real time data to the ground. So if the crews come across any damage where lives may be threatened, first responders can get to that right away.

The plane is now flying missions into Florence, and like it did in Harvey and Irma last year in Texas, it's helping first responders look out for flooded areas.

"Historic levels of flooding is a bizarre thing to see. Water everywhere. Water where it should not be, like houses," De Triguet said.  

The plane can survey large areas in a small amount of time and will be crucial for Florence recovery in the next few days.

Hurricane hunters are also still flying out of Lakeland, keeping an eye on the tropics.