Tropic Ocean Airways Commits Company to Post-Dorian Effort

Fort Lauderdale floatplane airline is ferrying people and goods in and out of stricken areas.

Ground crews load supplies aboard a Cessna Caravan
Ground crews load supplies aboard a Cessna Caravan.Tropic Ocean Airways

Rob Ceravalo, CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based Tropic Ocean Airways, has committed his people and aircraft to the post Hurricane Dorian relief efforts mounted by other businesses and NGOs in the South Florida area. His company operates a fleet of 13 Cessna Caravans, most of which are on floats and have come in mighty handy evacuating people from hard-to-reach areas in the islands of the Abacos and Grand Bahama.

Tropic Ocean also paired up with Blue Tide Marine, a company created by a number of former U.S. Navy SEALs, to help evacuate stranded residents from the Abaco area. Ceravalo is a former Naval aviator. Tropic is working with Delta Airlines, which committed an MD-88 to the relief effort and will be evacuating 110 people per flight from Marsh Harbour over to Nassau. Tropic Ocean Airways has already conducted about 60 relief flights per day, rescuing and helping evacuate more than 200 people while transporting more than 50,000 pounds of critical supplies.

Ceravalo said in a Sunday Facebook post. “This is so needed ... and such an awesome thing for them to do as they will run as many flights as needed. There are hundreds of people living both in and outside of the terminal trying to get away from the devastation that used to be a place for us to escape to.”

After his first flight to the region, Ceravalo said, “Flying over [Abaco and Grand Bahama], it’s still such a gorgeous sight from 9,000 ft. … but as you start to descend, your eye picks up the damage, the flooding, the desolation of the abandoned homes (or what’s left of them). It’s sad … but this isn’t the first time one of these islands has taken a major hit. Many of the people I met today in the terminal smiled when I spoke to them … they just wanted to get out so they can begin to rebuild their lives. The people we evacuated on our way to Nassau were pleasant, but tired. It shows true strength of character to endure such an ordeal and still find a reason to smile. I truly believe the people will recover and prosper … it will just take some time.” Ceravalo added, “Our next steps will be to continue to focus on the barrier island chain with the seaplanes as we are still meeting people who thought they were forgotten. In all of this devastation there is hope.”

Tropic and its partners created a list at the airline's website of badly needed supplies such as groceries, and hygiene, medical and cleaning supplies, as well as how to donate.