Navigating the Path of Continual Recovery: The Urgency of Long-Term Hurricane Recovery

Navigating the Path of Continual Recovery: The Urgency of Long-Term Hurricane Recovery

The 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season is here, and it’s already showing signs of activity with a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico forming into the first named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Arlene. According to forecasts, we can expect 12-17 named storms, with 5-9 potentially developing into hurricanes and 1-4 becoming major hurricanes.

At Airlink, we have a wealth of experience in effectively responding to major hurricanes. As the season unfolds, we are standing by to provide essential transport and logistics support for our NGO partners. We are deeply committed to assisting the communities that are most vulnerable to storms and actively facilitating long-term recovery efforts. During the 2022 Hurricane Season, Airlink reached 1.7 Million people with humanitarian aid and assistance.  

2023 Hurricane Season Outlook

As the 2023 Hurricane season officially begins, we already have the first named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Arlene. 

Forecasters from the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have provided insights into the anticipated activity for the 2023 hurricane season, predicting a 40% likelihood of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season, and a 30% chance of a below-normal season. 

These predictions are subject to change due to various factors that may either intensify or weaken the season. Forecasters are considering the potential impact of El Niño, which could potentially reduce activity as the season progresses. Conversely, the warming of Atlantic waters due to climate change might counteract the suppressing effect of El Niño. These variables suggest a dynamic forecast for the 2023 season.

Considering these forecasts, Airlink is taking proactive measures to prepare for a potential response to a maximum of four major hurricanes, falling within the Category 3, 4, or 5 classifications, based on insights derived from previous seasons’ patterns. Rapid intensification, seen with both Hurricane Laura and Ida, can impact a community’s ability to adequately prepare for an approaching storm. In addition, the rise in catastrophic storm surge, witnessed during Hurricane Ian, can result in hazardous flooding and significant infrastructure damage. Based on these lessons, we continue to strengthen our response capabilities to address not only the immediate aftermath of a disaster but also enhance our resources to aid in the reconstruction efforts necessitated by severe flooding.

Airlink supported partners Fuel Relief Fund, ITDRC, NECHAMA, and IOCC during responses to Hurricane Ida (2021) and Ian (2022)

2022 Ongoing Recovery

Amidst preparations for the upcoming hurricane season, communities continue to rebuild from hurricanes of years prior. Hurricane Ian’s impact is still felt in Florida’s coastal communities  Sanibel Island, Fort Myers Beach, Pine Island, and Naples after high winds and record storm surge wreaked havoc on homes and left entire communities displaced. Even 9 months later, Airlink continues to support ongoing recovery efforts with NGO partners Inspiritus and Missions on Wheels to provide debris removal, muck-and-gut, and chainsaw services to seniors and other vulnerable homeowners. 

We are acutely aware of the repercussions a hurricane can inflict upon a community that is still in the process of recovering from a prior devastating storm. In Louisiana, Airlink continues to support NECHAMA’s long-term recovery program for communities affected by 2020’s Hurricane Ida. The organization remains active in the St. Charles Parish area, providing support to homeowners that were hit by two major hurricanes in two years. When Hurricane Ida hit, the community was still in the process of recovering from the impact of Hurricane Laura’s landfall the year prior. The ongoing reconstruction efforts left residents unable to fully prepare for the impending storm, with many roofs still covered by tarps, leaving them vulnerable to the to the storms’ high winds and widespread flooding. 

Time and time again, we see that hurricanes have a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, particularly communities of color and low-income residents, exacerbating existing socio-economic disparities.  Limited access to resources, including financial resources, healthcare, and transportation, hinder a community’s ability to prepare and evacuate in the face of an approaching storm. In addition, historical and systemic inequalities contribute to the unequal distribution of recovery resources, resulting in slower and less comprehensive assistance for marginalized communities in the aftermath of a hurricane. 

As the impacts of climate change contribute to the likelihood of more severe and prolonged storm impacts, the focus on long-term recovery becomes increasingly crucial. The destructive power of these storms leaves lasting and profound impacts on affected communities, requiring extended periods for recovery and rebuilding efforts. By investing and supporting organizations engaging in long-term recovery programs, we can better equip communities to prepare, withstand, and recover from the escalating impacts of hurricanes. Airlink provides the lift organizations need to provide long-term support to vulnerable communities, and continue to respond as long as there is work to be done.

With your support, Airlink provided free flights for over 50 Operation BBQ Relief volunteers to reach Florida to help communities impacted by Hurricane Ian (2022). They served 30,000 hot and comforting meals to the local community. Watch the volunteers explain what Airlink support means to them.

Hurricane Season Prep

As we enter another hurricane season, it is important to understand the best ways to help in times of crisis. First and foremost, remember that ‘cash is king.’ In the immediate aftermath of a hurricane, it can seem helpful to want to donate material times to survivors who have lost nearly everything. However, in the critical first few weeks, these nonessential donations sent without appropriate coordination can cause a ‘second disaster’, clogging up distribution efforts that can slow and block life-saving and life-sustaining supplies. Over 60% of supplies sent in emergency situations are unsolicited and unneeded, and these donations eat away at the limited capacity of responders and can ultimately harm recovering economies.

While pre-emptive donations enable organizations to take immediate action during a hurricane, consistent contributions empower them to create enduring programs and prepare for future storms more effectively. These consistent donations play a vital role in bolstering long-term recovery programs, even after public attention has shifted elsewhere, by providing sustained resources and support to communities in need.

Your Support Makes a Big Difference

During the 2022 Hurricane Season, Airlink reached 1.7 Million people with humanitarian aid and assistance. We achieved this because of your generous support. As we continue to help communities rebuild from prior hurricanes, we are counting on your continued dedication to supporting communities in crisis. The first step in disaster response is getting there. 

Picture of Brigid McKeon

Brigid McKeon

Brigid McKeon is Airlink's Humanitarian Programs Manager for Latin America.

Related Stories

Making the Impossible Possible: The Haiti Humanitarian Airbridge

Airlink frequently makes the impossible possible. The Haiti Airbridge is a great example. This month Airlink was a finalist in the Concordia P3 Awards highlighting the power of public and private sector partnerships to change peoples lives. Find out more on this unique program.