We’ve all seen the reports of the devastation that’s being caused by Hurricane Ida. Homes are devastated, hundreds of thousands are without power, and worse. As so often happens during these types of disasters, members of the aviation community have already started to pitch in or stand by at the ready, doing whatever they can do to help victims of this natural disaster.
“Lots of people are hurting. We’re on our way,” said Trevor Norman, the national chapter coordinator for Aerobridge, one of a few organizations around the country that use donated aircraft to send vital supplies to areas affected by disaster.
For Norman’s group, what that means right now is setting up and staging supplies in Pensacola, Florida. Then, once it’s safe to fly there, sending supplies to three areas hit very hard by Ida:
- Hammond, Louisiana
- Houma, Louisiana
- Golden Meadow, Louisiana
However, the path of the storm is making things move a little bit slower than they’d like.
“We’re not flying [Monday] and we’re probably not flying [Tuesday] because the storm has slowed down,” Norman said.
Meanwhile, Steve Purello, the executive director of Angel Flights Southeast, says that once it’s safe to do so, they’ll be heading to Houma with Steve Ewing, the president of another rescue organization, Crossroads Alliance and Ministries, to do some recon work so that Ewing’s group knows what they need to do to be effective.
In the meantime, Angel Flights and Crossroads have a staging area in Ocala, Florida where they’re getting supplies ready to send to Louisiana.
‘We Just Do Our Job’
In all, Purello says Angel Flights Southeast has done about 1,500 missions of varying intensities and complications.
“Our most challenging one was Puerto Rico after a hurricane there,” Purello said. “It was just so hard to get people the things they needed because things weren’t set up very well.”
He said there were similar challenges during Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. But even though reports were that Ida may have been a stronger storm than Katrina, Purello didn’t expect things to be quite as difficult this time around.
“Even if the storm was as bad as Katrina, it won’t be as bad because they’ve got the levees figured out,” he said.
Whatever the obstacles, Purello says when the bell rings, his group as well as the many they partner with are ready to answer the call.
“We just do our job,” he said. “Whatever comes up. We just do our job.”
How You Can Help
There are a few ways that you can help the many people affected by Hurricane Ida.
You can send supplies to the staging areas in Pensacola and Ocala. Items in great need include:
- Sports drinks
- Bottled water
- Baby supplies (diapers, formula, baby food, baby clothing)
- Non-perishable food (canned, boxed cereal Mac n cheese, canned meats & vegetables
- Hygiene Kits
- Hand soap
- Toilet paper
- Toothbrush toothpaste
- Wash Cloth
- Bedsheets, pillows
- Disaster buckets that include: trash bags, Pine Sol, sponges, gloves, bleach, zip lock gallon bags, flashlights, batteries
- Chain Saws
In Pensacola, you can ship to:
Pensacola Aviation Center
4145 Jerry L. Maygarden Rd.
Pensacola, Florida 32504
In Ocala, the address is:
5580 SE 37th Place
Ocala, Florida 34480
Many organizations are also always on the lookout for pilots to volunteer their time to fly missions.
Contact one of the local or national aviation relief organizations to find out how you can be of service. Organizations include: