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Hurricane cleanup: How to helpHurricane cleanup: How to help

In the wake of hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which dealt a one-two punch to the Gulf Coast area, general aviation has played a major role in the relief efforts. Many pilots may be wondering how they can help.

“Our best advice—just as it was after Katrina and Rita, or any natural disaster—is, ‘Don’t freelance,’” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “No matter how good your intentions, the situation is too confused for pilots to just load up and head to the affected areas.”

Pilots who wish to help can visit FEMA’s Web site for information about making donations to the relief effort.

Hurricane Ike struck overnight Sept. 12 as the tide was rising, inundating Galveston Island and flooding Houston. More than three and a half million people live in the impact zone.

The hurricane also hit parts of Louisiana that are still cleaning up after Hurricane Gustav struck the area on Sept. 2.

Individual GA pilots should not try to fly into the area because they could inadvertently interfere with relief temporary flight restrictions (TFRs).

As with any natural disaster, relief agencies say unless you’re already registered with them as a relief worker, the best thing you can do is donate money. That way relief workers on site have the ability to purchase what’s really needed. Such purchases have the added benefit of helping the local economy recover.

The Civil Air Patrol is aiding in the recovery effort by taking aerial damage-assessment photos. It is basing the operation out of Houston. You can see them online here (click on the Maps link at the top) and on the CAP’s Web site.

AOPA Communications staff

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