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FAA warns drone users about flying in Hurricane Harvey area

The agency says unauthorized drone use could interfere with rescue and recovery efforts currently underway.

Epic Flooding Inundates Houston After Hurricane Harvey
People walk down a flooded street in Houston on Monday as they evacuate their homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration is warning drone operators not to fly their devices over the Houston area as rescue efforts continue in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

The FAA said Tuesday that unauthorized drone operation over the disaster area could interfere with rescue and recovery efforts currently underway in areas inundated by epic floods brought on by the deadly storm. The agency warned that flying a drone near a disaster area may violate federal and local laws and may result in stiff penalties.

"You could be subject to significant fines if you interfere with emergency response operations," the agency said in a statement. "Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference."

Drones have been used to record images of the destruction left behind after the deadly storm made landfall in Texas on Friday. At least 13 people have died since the Category 4 storm began whipping coastal communities throughout the region with rain and 130 mph winds. Thousands of rescues have been made in the region between Corpus Christi and Houston as flood waters rise to dangerous levels.

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The storm has brought record rainfall to the area, dropping more than 50 inches of rain in some areas, the National Weather Service said Tuesday. Harvey has brought such unprecedented rainfall that the National Weather Service actually had to add two new colors to its maps to indicate the hardest-hit areas. 

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