June 1 marked the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane season, which typically runs until November. In recent years, hurricanes have heavily impacted communities across the Caribbean, like those in the US Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico, as well as the continental United States.
Airlink has a history of supporting communities in the Caribbean impacted by hurricanes. Previously, the organization delivered aid and expert volunteers post-hurricane Dorian, Maria, and Irma.
Tourism is a critical part of the economies of these island communities. For example, in the US Virgin Islands it accounts for 60% of GDP. As tourism season begins, it is expected that it will generate a surge in COVID-19 amongst the local populations, stressing local health systems and impacting fragile local communities.
The situation in the US Virgin Islands will be compounded by the fact that they are still recovering from the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and Dorian in 2019 – each of which stressed an already vulnerable, aging, urban population and strained healthcare system.
Working with the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) and in response to a USVI Department of Health and FEMA request, Airlink is transporting 50 volunteer medical personnel to hospitals on the islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John bolstering local health systems.
Airlink also began on-the-ground hurricane preparation by partnering with Footprint Project and Southwest Airlines to deliver the organization’s newest solar trailer to the Puerto Rico Office of Emergency Management. The equipment, which expands the agency’s fleet of mobile solar equipment in time for hurricane season, will provide solar-powered medical and cellular device recharging, insulin refrigeration, radio communications, lighting, and more to communities in need.
With a global pandemic still heavily impacting the work of the disaster response and humanitarian relief communities, responding to this year’s hurricane season is going to be even more challenging than in previous years.
Assessing Response Capacity
Airlink supports over 130 nonprofit disaster response organizations, and occupies a unique position within the disaster relief community. This position includes a convening, organizing and thought leadership role.
In partnership with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, Airlink sought to survey humanitarian and disaster relief nonprofits, government agencies, and other organizations within our extensive stakeholder networks to understand how the disaster relief community has been impacted by COVID-19.
Assessing the capacity of the sector to respond to hurricanes and identifying common challenges within the sector, in comparison to previous years’ responses, is the first step in enabling the whole sector to better organize a co-ordinated response that reflects the challenges it faces while supporting disaster-impacted communities during a global pandemic.
Airlink has launched the AviationC.A.R.E.S. (Co-ordinated Air Response for Emergency Supplies) campaign to provide a sustainable pipeline of airlift for relief organizations working to support communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond the immediate COVID-19 focused needs of relief organizations, this funding will be used to help fuel relief efforts for fragile communities enduring ongoing natural disasters during the pandemic.
Airlink’s global impact fund under the AviationC.A.R.E.S. umbrella aims to raise $10M in cash and in-kind support from individuals, corporate, and foundation donors to underwrite transportation and logistics for a growing network of nonprofit relief organizations. Learn more about AviationC.A.R.E.S.
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Airlink and the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) have joined forces to send medical personal to the US Virgin Islands (USVI). The mission is in response to a call for help from the USVI Department of Health and FEMA.