Hard-hit Bahamas seek help from pilots

August 29, 2011

Bahamas

Bahamas Habitat already is flying into the Bahamas to deliver relief supplies in the wake of Hurricane Irene. There's just one problem: They need more supplies.

Half a dozen aircraft are flying regular missions from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to the Bahamas, Bahamas Habitat President John Armstrong told AOPA. However, the organization is limiting the number of aircraft involved until it can stock up more supplies.

But the need is great. "These people are just going to be surviving for a while," Armstrong said.

"We want to get that hangar filled," Armstrong said of the nonprofit organization's staging area at the airport. The goal is to reload aircraft for another mission as soon as they return from dropping off supplies.

Armstrong said the aviation community can help in many ways. People can donate money for the supplies through the group's website. Immediate cash donations enable Bahamas Habitat to send volunteers to stores in the Fort Lauderdale area to buy supplies for the missions. Supplies needed include tarps, rope, clean five-gallon buckets, nonperishable no-preparation foods, candles and matches, flashlights and batteries, generators with extension cords, towels, and roofing supplies such as nails, felt, shingles, and tools.

Pilots also can fly supplies to Fort Lauderdale Executive and then, if desired, join the missions flying to the Bahamas. "If you'll bring that first load, that's great," Armstrong said. He added that pilots in the Southeast also can collect supplies at their airports and contact Bahamas Habitat to have a volunteer fly to their airport to pick up the supplies.

Those interested in helping Bahamas Habitat or who want to volunteer for missions can sign up for email notifications.

Bahamas Habitat coordinates disaster relief work in the Bahamas and Caribbean, and the organization continues to play a role in organizing relief flights to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Last year, the National Aeronautic Association recognized the organization for its efforts in Haiti.