WSU student uses drone to help people after Hurricane Harvey

KSN News.

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita State University student has been busy using what he has learned in the classroom to give a bird’s eye view of hurricane damage in Houston, Texas.

James Balman says he’s leaving soon for California with his drone to help inspect damages from the wildfires. It was just a month ago that he returned from Houston where he did the very same job with hurricane relief.

It was this very drone that worked from sun up to sun down in Texas.

It’s now in Wichita with its owner, but just two months ago, it helped people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“When you walk into someone’s home and they’ve lost everything it becomes a very intimate moment and you can’t be a human being and not want to help,” said James Balman, Master of Innovation Design Student.

WSU student James Balman demonstrates his drone skills on WSU’s campus November 3. (Photo courtesy KSN News)

Balman is an independent adjuster and works in catastrophe environments. He says with so much debris and destruction, the drone becomes a powerful tool.

It provides a safe option to inspect damages. It also helps people not have to wait so long for help from insurance companies.

“By using a drone we are able to inspect that we are able to validate the loss or what the repair damage will cost and able to get checks into the insurance hands quicker instead of waiting two or three weeks where some of these people didn’t have anywhere to go,” said Balman.

Balman says being away from home can be tough with a family but his contributions are rewarding. He’s only in his first year in the program at WSU, but hopes to learn more about drones during his time. And with every relief effort, Balman says he’s learning.

“You’re always witnessing something you haven’t seen before and you just try to be prepared,” said Balman.

Balman even earned a college credit towards his Master’s Degree while he was working down in Texas.