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AP

Commercial drones are being used to quickly scope out damage, map 3-D views of the flood zone and help with rescue efforts in the areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

Drone inspectors: Outside of disaster recovery, one of the fastest-growing uses for commercial drones is to inspect infrastructure, property and equipment. That's how companies and local government officials are putting drones to use, especially in badly flooded areas that are still too dangerous for people to venture into.

How drones are being used to assess damage:

  • AT&T is using drones to inspect cell towers for damage near Corpus Christi. Drones can provide a more detailed view of the sites than human cell tower climbers, and it can inspect more towers in less time, freeing up workers to make the most urgent repairs. The company told Axios it has deployed 46 drones so far, and has an additional 58 drones on standby.
  • Allstate Insurance will fly hundreds of drone missions a day to inspect property in what is probably is largest-scale use of the technology, as will USAA and Farmers Insurance, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
  • DroneDeploy, which makes software for drones to capture images while flying, plans to publicly share data collected by drones in the areas affected by Harvey so the community and rescue operations can zoom into 3-D maps to see around buildings and bayous and under trees, CEO Mike Winn told Axios. He estimates drones can work six times faster than humans trying to reach the scene.
  • The FAA has authorized oil and energy companies to look for damage to their facilities, fuel tanks, power lines and other parts of the local power grid.

Taking to the skies: The Federal Aviation Administration warned unauthorized drone operators to steer clear of emergency response operations. As of Thursday, the FAA said it has authorized 43 drone operators who are supporting the response or covering it as part of the media.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Lives saved: Drone enthusiasts also point out their life-saving potential. In a March report, drone maker DJI says drones have rescued at least 59 people from life-threatening conditions, by its count. More than one third of the people rescued were saved by drones operated by civilian bystanders and volunteers, according to the report.

Go deeper

Updated 17 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: Twin Cities on edge after Daunte Wright shooting

Police officers form a line as they face off with demonstrators protesting the death of Daunte Wright outside the Brooklyn Center police station on April 12 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

There were tense scenes in the Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Center Monday night, after demonstrators defied a 7 p.m. curfew to protest for a second night the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright.

The big picture: The curfew was announced following a night of protests and unrest over the killing of Wright, 20, during a traffic stop Sunday. Following peaceful protests and a daytime vigil, police again deployed tear gas during clashes with protesters Monday night, according to reporters on the scene.

Japan to release Fukushima water into sea

People near storage tanks for radioactive water at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, in 2020. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Japan's government on Tuesday announced plans to release more than 1 million metric tons of contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean following a treatment process.

Why it matters: While the Biden administration has said Japan appears to have met globally accepted nuclear safety standards, officials in South Korea, China and Taiwan, local residents, those in the fishing industry and green groups oppose the plans, due to begin in about two years, per the Guardian.

In photos: Life along the U.S.-Mexico border

Children at the border of the Puerto de Anapra colonia of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, hang on a border fence and look to Sunland Park, N.M. Photo: Russell Contreras/Axios

Axios traveled to McAllen and El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to see how the communities are responding to an increase of migrants from Central America.

Of note: The region in South and West Texas are among the poorest in the nation and rarely are the regions covered in depth beyond the soundbites and press conference. Axios reporters Stef Kight and Russell Contreras walked the streets of McAllen, El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez to record images that struck them.