As hurricane season churns on toward September, Hurricane Lane threw into sharp relief the capability and bandwidth of the global humanitarian response network.
“Airlink and the larger U.S. disaster response sector took proactive steps to preposition responders ahead of Hurricane Lane,” says Airlink Program Manager Stephanie Austin. “We’ve all learned a lot about hurricane response in the past year, and we know we can’t just watch and wait. We moved quickly and uniformly to mobilize an effective response ahead of the storm.”
Airlink, in partnership with United Airlines, arranged flights for Heart to Heart International and World Central Kitchen volunteers to fly into Hawaii before the storm hit.
“The ability to rapidly assess a disaster is critical in providing timely, needed medical relief,” says Dr. Rick Randolph, Chief Medical Officer at Heart to Heart International. “Our role is to provide an eyes-on assessment of the storm’s damage so that we can make the quickest possible decision on whether a full medical response is needed.”
Fortunately, the storm did not hit Hawaii with the anticipated level of destruction, but the initial threat underscored the importance of preparedness and coordination between nonprofit relief organizations, governmental coordinating bodies, and airlines in building disaster response capacity and readiness. Adequate preparation enables efficient and fluid movement of responders and relief aid to isolated or remote regions, like Hawaii, where air transportation is critical to response.
“Airlink’s focus on preparedness is made possible in part by its Regional Response Framework and the airlines that pre-commit capacity,” says Austin. “Responsive aviation partners like United Airlines and Alaska Airlines make an immediate impact in disaster response.”
Airlink and its airline partners continue to send volunteers for recovery efforts, but it has been determined that material aid should not be sent to the island unless specifically requested.
“People are eager to help in any way they can, but it is incredibly important that as responsible humanitarian actors, we keep the supply chain clear and deliver only what is most urgently needed,” explains Austin.
Helpful Facts & Figures:
- As much as four feet of rain fell in some areas.
- About 40 rescues were conducted
- No deaths have been reported