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Help Is on the Way: Business Aircraft Fly Supplies Into Areas Ravaged by Sandy
Potable Water, Dry Food, and Medical Supplies Urgently Needed
November 3, 2012
Millions of people throughout the northeastern United States are still without shelter, basic utilities, and access to food and medical care in the devastating aftermath from 'Superstorm' Sandy. As federal agencies and charitable organizations work to reach those cut off from emergency relief, the business aviation community has stepped in to provide urgently needed assistance.
"We have between 25-30 aircraft, ranging from PC-12s to the Global Express, ready to assist with the relief effort in New Jersey and New York," said Douglas Schultz, board member of AERObridge and a founding member of Corporate Aviation Responding in Emergencies (CARE), a group of volunteers from the business aviation community who coordinate donated aircraft for critical transport during disasters.
As of Saturday evening, AERObridge had coordinated 32 flights, and been involved in over 18 additional flights to five collection sites. Schultz estimated the organization had assisted in the delivery of 94,000 lbs. of relief supplies, adding "the momentum is increasing.
“Operators have donated these aircraft and crews, and they are prepared to fly wherever and whenever they are needed,” Schultz added. “Most came from the NBAA HERO Database and through NBAA's Air Mail forum, while others reached out to us directly with offers to help.”
Photo courtesy Showalter Flying Service
Offers to assist with the relief effort have come from across the country, with discussions about specific needs and methods of transporting supplies to stricken areas dominating Airmail and other aviation message boards.
"There's a huge community of people in this area that need help," said New Jersey resident, Sky Hope Network board member and NBAA Director of Educational Development & Strategy, Jo Damato. "And, we've put the call out to operators planning to fly into the area for any space onboard. If they have empty seats, we want to fill that space with dry food, drinkable water, and personal toiletries. Gift cards are also appreciated.
“Many local NBAA Members in the greater-New Jersey area have reached out to me personally, wondering how they can help and they are starting their own grassroots efforts to have food drives in their neighborhoods and places of business/airports, for transport to New Jersey shelters,” she added.
New York’s five boroughs were also hit by the storm. AERObridge has received PPR (prior permission required) approval for corporate humanitarian flights into Farmingdale’s Republic Airport (FRG) - and JFK International Airport for larger aircraft - bringing supplies into Lower Manhattan and other areas. "We’ve had urgent and specific requests from two large evacuation centers - one in Staten Island, and another in Brooklyn,” Schultz noted. “Those centers are completely cut off from any relief due to conditions on the ground.”
Other organizations throughout the business aviation community are also finding ways to assist with relief efforts. Showalter Flying Service, host facility for the static aircraft display at the recently-concluded 2012 NBAA Meeting and Convention in Orlando, FL., found good use for bottled water left over from the event.
"We had about 15 cases of water remaining, that had been donated by Universal Weather and Aviation for our crew during the show," said Brad Elliott, Director of New Business at Showalter. "As we were making plans to send those cases to the Northeast, [company president] Kim Showalter walked by and said that [static display sponsor] TAC Air had another four pallets of water as well. We loaded everything we could onto a Lear 40 that landed Thursday night at Teterboro.”
Schultz said AERObridge believes these private efforts will be most beneficial throughout the weekend and into early next week, assisting as a “stopgap” until federal and other relief channels have been established.
“We need supplies,” he added. “AERObridge has several pre-staged storage facilities throughout the lower 48; however, we have completely used all of our stocked supplies in Jacksonville, FL, Charleston, SC and Stewart, NY. We are now trying to find a constant pipeline of items.”