Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts

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AZ Organizations Donate Tons of Supplies for Sandy Victims

November 19, 2012

Nearly 8,000 pounds of donated supplies arrived last weekend to portions of New York and New Jersey hit hardest by "Superstorm" Sandy, thanks to support from several companies and more than a little luck and resourcefulness.

The Arizona Business Aviation Association (AZBAA) partnered with non-profit relief organization AERObridge to coordinate the successful air-and-ground transport mission. "It was wonderful to be able to demonstrate what business aviation can do for the community," said AZBAA President Ken Casey. "We had unbelievable support from the companies involved."

Melodi Gerber, AZBAA member and president of Stratosphere Fuel Consortium, said the effort began with a Nov. 3 post on NBAA's Air Mail forum seeking donations from the area. "By Monday night, we were inundated with donations – just a phenomenal response," she said. "Cutter Aviation [at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport] allowed us to use one of their hangars as a warehouse, and Pinnacle Aviation in Scottsdale agreed to serve as a second drop point."

An anonymous company agreed to place some of those supplies on its Cessna Citation X departing for White Plains, NY, but it soon became clear that wouldn't be enough. "By Tuesday, we realized we wouldn't be able to move it by plane alone," Gerber said. "Penske Truck Rental stepped up immediately, and agreed to donate a 26-foot-long truck to carry additional supplies from Phoenix to New York."

That truck, driven by Alan Staats with AERObridge, would ultimately be loaded with 7,218 pounds of donated food, blankets, and other supplies. Both vehicles departed Phoenix Nov. 7.

Not long after, however, a potential problem cropped up, as the organizations learned the White Plains leg of the original relief flight had been cancelled. That left the aircraft grounded in the Chicago area, along with the 450 pounds of supplies – though not for long.

A national office supply retailer had a Falcon 50 scheduled to fly from Dupage Airport to New York, and agreed to take the supplies on its aircraft. Dupage Flight Center Director Mark Doles and Randy Frank, operations manager at J.A. Air Center at nearby Aurora Municipal Airport, helped repackage the supplies and load them on to the Falcon.

"A one hundred percent effort went into the relief missions. I think that's huge," Gerber noted. "Everyone's response was instantaneous."

While the original mission has been completed, donations from Arizona businesses are still coming in. "My living room is completely filled," Gerber said. "We are absolutely still looking for operators to fly these supplies."

Casey added that the Citation X operator returned to Scottsdale Nov. 12 to load another shipment of supplies bound for the New York area.