Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts

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Northeast Helicopter Operators Ready to Fly Storm Relief Missions

November 8, 2012

Portions of New York and New Jersey that were still cleaning up from Sandy, are now dealing with the aftermath of a nor'easter that brought more damage to the storm-ravaged region.

"It might be a step back from Sandy, but it's still an example of kicking a dog when it's down," said Jeffrey Smith, chairman of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) of the nor'easter. "There are still 1.2 million people without power across the area, and we're concerned this might be the tipping point for areas that barely held on through the hurricane."

Comprised of helicopter operators from Washington, DC to Boston, MA, the ERHC has activated its Helicopter Emergency Response Program, which involves more than 30 private companies along the East Coast. Operators have made their aircraft and crews available for ongoing emergency relief efforts from the powerful storm - and they're getting the message out that they're here to help.

Smith noted that one operator and ERHC member began relief operations through the Ocean City, NJ area on Saturday, coordinating sorties out of Lakewood Airport (N12). Helicopters operated by the group are also flying state Office of Emergency Coordination officials along the shore for damage assessment trips.

The ERHC has also identified where military helicopters are landing on Staten Island, NY, where some of the worst storm damage occurred, and is working to establish airlift capabilities to the area. "We're working with one of our manufacturers to coordinate donations for supplies," Smith added. "We're especially concerned about people who have lost everything from Sandy and don't have warm clothes."

The biggest challenge for the group has been getting the word out, Smith said. "We just want to help in any way we can. The members of this organization live here and work here; this is our community. During a time of crisis, we see it as our obligation to do everything we can to pitch in and help those in need.

"We have real-time people wanting to help out in real-time," he said.