Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts

Bookmark and Share

Companies Work Together to Fly Supplies into Areas Devastated by Sandy

November 12, 2012

NBAA Flight Plan podcast interview with NBAA's Jo Damato

What started as a simple request to help collect donated items for the victims of “Superstorm” Sandy evolved over 72 hours into a major airlift of badly needed supplies into the stricken area.

A post from Jo Damato, NBAA’s director, operations & education development, to NBAA's Air Mail message board on November 2 convinced Howard Moses, managing partner of Blue Star Jets, to ask his local FBO to establish a collection area for supplies. Kathy Dawson, at Ronson Aviation at New Jersey’s Trenton Mercer Airport (TTN), quickly agreed, and items such as clothing, food, diapers and bottled water were soon being dropped off at the facility.

"Ronson was very welcoming, and quickly set up the capability to take goods there," said Moses. "We didn't really know anything else at that point, though."

While that effort was underway, a group of volunteers were banding together to fill a Beechjet 400, managed by LR Services, with supplies. Representatives from the company coordinated with staffers at World Fuel Services and East Coast Jets to donate a long list of items to fill the otherwise empty aircraft, which was scheduled to be repositioned Monday to TTN from Allentown, PA.

"We're all in this together," said Patti Squire with LR Services. "Everyone involved knows people who have been devastated. Compatriots of mine still have their power off, and are trying to get gasoline. We had to help. All we had to do was put out the word that we were doing this, and they began dropping off supplies at the door."

"Our neighbors to the East are really suffering," added April Honnen, director of charter sales at East Coast Jets. "We wanted to do something to show that we are thinking about them. It was our privilege to help in this small way."

When the aircraft arrived Monday at TTN, a local charity group was waiting to take all of the donated items where they needed to go. "We have a nonprofit group nearby called Youth Advocate Programs, which has the capability to get relief supplies distributed directly to those who need it," Moses explained. "It's wonderful to have such an organization nearby that can distribute whatever we can get into Mercer this week."

All the companies involved are now working on additional charitable efforts throughout the area.

"If we have the opportunity and the means to help, you just do it," added Sandra Sabatini, sales executive with World Fuel Services, which donated fuel for the Beechjet flight. "You don't do it for glory; you do it simply because you have to help when you see things that make your heart break."

Damato reacted to the outpouring of support saying “I’m thrilled, but not surprised. Business aviation is all about speed and flexibility, and the people in our industry are generous and passionate. It’s no wonder that so many business aviation professionals stepped up to help.”

Damato encourages Members to continue to sign up for NBAA’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Operator (HERO) Database. “Not only is there more help needed for those in the Northeast right now,” said Damato “who knows what the next crisis might be? The HERO database gives relief efforts a head start by identifying those in the business aviation community who might be able to help when called upon.”