April 2, 2023


elk-city-tornado-drone-footagecaused by a tornado that ripped through and destroyed at least 40 houses. One person died in this terrible tragedy, and at least 20 more people were injured. Video captured by the drone shows the horror of a storm that unleashed its fury on both of the towns of Carter and Elk City. Flying over the massive wreckage, the video shows over 40 houses and mobile homes that are completely destroyed by the rain and winds that accompany the tornado.


Damaged homes extended along Fairway Drive close to the renowned Elk City Golf and Country Club, although the storm did not damage the club itself. News crews from Fox 25 relied on the drone footage to provide video of the storm-damaged areas, making the drone an important part of the news reports following the devastation. The use of drones in news reporting has continued to rise recently, with most news stations deploying drones along with news reporters to provide detailed footage of any news story.

Fox 25 news reporters were on the scene as Elk City rescue workers removed injured homeowners from the swath of damaged homes left by the passing tornado. Danny Ringer, the Beckham County Emergency Manager reported that the single reported death from the tornado was located in Beckham County near Highway 34 and Highway 152. At least 20 to 25 people were transported to area hospitals to receive care for their injuries, and almost 24,000 people were without power for most of the following day.


Flying high above the wreckage of the storm, drones provide incredibly detailed footage of the aftermath of this terrible tornado. From the wreckage of over 40 homes to the uprooted trees and damaged house roofs, the drone footage is gathered by news stations and shared with the public to give everyone a better understanding of the truly awesome power of these storms that rip through Oklahoma, leaving nothing but damage behind. Drone footage provides an excellent resource for grabbing still pictures of the damage, and the movement of the drone allows the pilot to fly over areas at low heights searching for movement and survivors.

News companies like CNN have added drone divisions to their reporting resources with journalists working closely with drone pilots to get the very best news footage as each incident unfolds. The Federal Aviation Commission has recently released guidelines that allow people like journalists without a pilot’s license to operate these types of drones to gather news video footage. The employment of full-time drone operators makes sense when it comes to getting the best video of a news story in progress or something similar to the Elk City tornado devastation. Use of these drone divisions may include a sudden increase in drone-enabled photojournalists in the United States and other countries, causing concern for those with an eye on the privacy issues faced by anyone who encounters these drones.


Use of drones in search and rescue missions provide real-time data and visual information for first responders dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake. The beauty of the search-and-rescue drone is in its ability to navigate above the dangerous or unstable wreckage on the ground without the risk of bodily injury to the drone pilot. Increasingly, drones are used to search for missing persons in areas where travel becomes hazardous, to seek out criminals who are on the run from the police, and for accident and crime scene investigation and documentation. These video drones provide an amazing resource that offers police investigators and private citizens an overview of the accident area or crime scene. Mountain rescues and search missions are also aided by drones that can navigate the treacherous rocks and snowy cliffs without risking the lives of the first responders. Once a missing person is located, the emergency responders are dispatched to complete the rescue.

From traveling and reporting the aftermath of the Elk City tornado to enabling search and rescue missions that do not risk the lives of the first responders, drones are impacting the lives of humans in positive ways.