Harvey rescue drones
The US FAA said that going against the warning would mean a clear violation of "federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place"U.S. Army National Guard/Capt. Martha Nigrelle/Handout via REUTERS

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States has issued a warning against unauthorized drone operation in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

According to a Bloomberg report, the US aviation regulator has issued restrictions to prohibit civilian drone operation in areas around greater Houston. The order warns drone operators against flying their devices at a height up to 3,000ft, as they could affect rescue and recovery missions carried out by the US National Guard, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Texas Military Department.

FAA also noted that going against the warning would mean a clear violation of "federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place".

The new restrictions were imposed after concerns were raised about possible interference from hobbyist drones and other private unmanned aerial vehicles. In a Pentagon briefing on Monday (28 August), Air Force Major General James Witham called civilian drones 'a big deal' and stressed that any UAV could interfere with a military plane working on the recovery and rescue mission.

"And as much as possible, if we could keep civilian drones out of the crowded skies that are already crowded with people doing response and recovery efforts, that would certainly be helpful," Witham said. "Those present a hazard for our crews operating those helicopters in the region."

The Texas Military Department also tweeted against the risks posed by civilian drones in high-need areas:

Over last few days, a number of hobbyists have used small civilian drones just to capture the aftermath of Harvey, which has been described as one of the worst disasters in history. The Category 4 tropical storm has caused unprecedented and catastrophic flooding in Texas since Friday. It has whipped coastal areas with heavy rainfall – more than 50 inches in some areas – and winds cruising at 130mph. At least 13 people have died till now.