As the known extent of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina continues to worsen, AOPA members have been contacting their association, asking how they can use their skills as pilots to aid in the rescue and relief effort.
"We all want to jump in and help in any way possible. But our piloting skills are not what relief workers need - not yet," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "However, AOPA is working with the Department of Homeland Security to determine the best way GA can help. They are aware of our members' desire to help and will get back to us as soon as they have a clear idea of how to use those remarkable assets."
There will be many ways members can help. One key resource to consider is Air Care Alliance. It promotes and supports the work of dozens of organizations like the Angel Flight groups across the country and has established a volunteer protocol on its Web site. Links to its volunteer pilot organizations around the country also are available. ACA is working with AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Thomas Marino in Baton Rouge to set up a liaison with the Louisiana governor's office. Another resource is Emergency Volunteer Air Corps (EVAC), which also has a Hurricane Katrina link on its Web site.
For nearly 64 years, the Civil Air Patrol has been providing important search and rescue support for a wide variety of needs. If you are not already a member, you might not be able to fly missions with them, but you could certainly provide critical ground and logistics support.
"But what we can all do - now - to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina is donate money to relief agencies," said Boyer. "They can use this money to meet the immediate needs of those in the critically affected areas."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has compiled a list of nearly 20 relief organizations to which you can donate money or sign up to volunteer.
Updated: September 2, 2005, 12:45 p.m. EDT