Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts

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C&S Wholesale Grocers Flies Medical Supplies to ‘Superstorm’ Sandy Victims

November 20, 2012

“Superstorm” Sandy left a devastating impact on the East Coast last October, destroying homes, flooding communities, and leaving millions without electricity. The largest Atlantic storm on record – and the second-most-destructive hurricane ever, after Katrina – closed airports throughout the region, halting air travel for days.

As life began returning to normal for many – and flights into major and regional airports resumed – a long and grueling road ahead still remained for thousands of the hardest hit New York and New Jersey residents and businesses. Destroyed communities that lost almost everything were just starting to rebuild and were in dire need of basic items like clothing, food and water, and medical supplies – especially as cold winter weather began to settle in.

One of the reasons business aviation is an essential industry in America today is because of its commitment to provide aircraft for humanitarian assistance after major disasters and in moments of crisis, whether they involve millions or even just one person. Business aircraft are uniquely suited for the task because of their ability to land in locations that are sometimes difficult to reach or inaccessible by larger aircraft, trucks and automobiles, and many business aircraft operators jump at the opportunity to help those in need.

In 2010, the NBAA established its Humanitarian Emergency Response Operator (HERO) Database, a list of volunteers from the business aviation community who are part of disaster-response mobilization efforts. In the aftermath of major crises, basic information from the database is provided to organizations coordinating relief efforts.

In the days following Superstorm Sandy, people and organizations from across the business aviation community mobilized to coordinate pilots, aircraft, flight-planning services and other assets to move relief and supplies into the disaster area. As part of that effort, NBAA’s Jo Damato distributed an alert to HERO members requesting much-needed supplies for storm victims in the region.

C&S Wholesale Grocers, the country’s largest food wholesaler, immediately responded with the offer to dispatch its Challenger 300 from Dillant Hopkins Airport (EEN) in New Hampshire to Teterboro Airport (TEB) in New Jersey. C&S had already donated three tractor-trailer loads of food – approximately 150,000 pounds – to Feeding America member food banks in the areas hit hard by Sandy, so the company decided that this flight should focus on much-needed medical supplies.

C&S Wholesale Chairman and CEO Rick Cohen and his wife Jan accompanied the relief flight, which included nearly 600 pounds of medical supplies donated by the company, including first aid staples. The Cohens helped volunteers load a truck to carry the supplies to a food bank in Neptune, NJ.

The flight was the latest example of C&S Wholesale using its aircraft for humanitarian purposes. Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the company dispatched its airplane to the capital Port-au-Prince within days. The C&S flight was one of the first private aircraft to receive clearance to transport emergency response and medical professionals as well as medical supplies. The flight had only one hour to deliver its passengers and cargo before returning. On the return trip, C&S brought back a group of doctors, nurses and medical aides from a hospital in New Hampshire who had been volunteering at a clinic in Haiti before the earthquake and needed help getting home.