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Don’t fly your drone into Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts

It could cost you upward of $32,000 in fines.

Florida Prepares As Hurricane Matthew Barrels Towards Atlantic Coast Mark Wilson / Getty

While an aerial video of a hurricane hovering over the Atlantic coast might be tempting for drone enthusiasts, don’t get in the way, warns the FAA.

Recovery operations often require planes to fly at extremely low altitudes and any drone that interferes with disaster relief efforts may be slapped with a $32,140 fine (per violation) and possibly even face criminal prosecution, said the FAA in a statement.

Hurricane Matthew is already flooding the northeast coast of Florida and is expected to hit the coastlines of Georgia and South Carolina. The eye of the storm is now only about 30 miles from Daytona Beach, as wind gusts have surged to over 100 miles per hour.

There haven’t been any drone flight restrictions issued yet for areas affected by the storm, but the FAA says it’s up to drone operators to check before they fly to make sure. And even if a restriction hasn’t been issued, if your drone muddles with any hurricane response efforts, you may still be subject to fines for interference.

Drones may be flown for relief efforts, but only if they’ve received clearance from a governmental entity and are in direct support of disaster response. The FAA must also be notified by phone and receive an email request from the drone operator.

Here’s drone footage from Boca Raton, Fla., shot right before it got too windy to fly.

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