As Hurricane Florence approached the United States’ Carolinas, Airlink wasted no time in coordinating airline transportation and logistics to pre-position responders ahead of the storm, and continued moving in more personnel once the worst of the storm had passed. Working with Signature Lead partner United Airlines and other airline partners – including Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways – responders were flown in from around the country and as far away as the United Kingdom.
“Through the power and speed of aviation, Airlink has the ability to rapidly deploy talented, professional, and energized nonprofit responders to help support communities in crisis,” says Airlink President and CEO Steven Smith. “And I can tell you first-hand how much all of the air carriers care about and want to help in times like these.”
“We are so proud to partner with Airlink, who is on the front lines helping communities recover quickly,” says Alaska Airlines. “Our hearts go out to the impacted communities as they recover from the devastating impacts of nature.”
So far, Airlink and its airline partners have supported flights for for than 80 responders across 13 nonprofits – playing a vital role in the response to Hurricane Florence.
As an airline, United is in a unique position to provide critical relief to areas impacted by disaster,” says United Airlines Managing Director of Community Affairs Suzi Cabo. “Airlink’s ability to prioritize needs and vet partners has allowed United and its customers to help respond to some of the world’s most devastating disasters, in ways that truly make an impact.”
“The situation is grim, but people are holding up well here,” says Mobile Medics International volunteer Sean Burns, a swift water rescue certified EMT. Burns is working alongside local EMS teams in Riegelwood, North Carolina, which is currently cut off by flood waters.
Feed the Children, Operation BBQ Relief, and World Central Kitchen are feeding tens of thousands of people impacted by the storm, while groups like Mobile Medics International, Empact Northwest, and Global Outreach Doctors support rescue and medical efforts.
More than 25 inches of rain have fallen in some areas of the US East Coast, killing at least 37 people and prompting an estimated 2,000 rescues and emergency evacuations. Billions of dollars in estimated property damage could put Florence in the record books as one of the costliest storms in US history. Meeting that damage head-on, partners All Hands and Hearts, Mercy Corps, Team Rubicon USA, ToolBank USA, and Heavy Equipment Response Coalition are hard at work assembling teams, assessing damage, and clearing debris.
“With the great support from Airlink, All Hands and Hearts has been able to mobilize quickly on several responses, this one included, and begin serving the community as soon as possible,” shares the All Hands and Hearts team stationed in New Bern, NC.
“A storm like Florence creates a wide array of needs in affected communities and because they are themselves recovering, locals don’t have the resources to respond,” explains Airlink Humanitarian Programs Manager Stephanie Steege. “The range of expertise of our responding partners, and the scope of their impact, illustrate how many people and talents are required in an effective, coordinated response.”
“This response is especially challenging due to the rural nature of the areas affected; responders are stretched thin ensuring they can serve not only the cities affected by flooding, but also those who are more isolated,” Steege adds.
Airlink continues working with its airline and nonprofit partners to coordinate further response efforts in North Carolina, potentially sending dozens more responders to the area in the coming weeks.
Support Airlink’s response to Hurricane Florence and disasters around the globe.