Planes of varying sizes are loading up with supplies at the Gainesville Regional Airport and delivering hope to panhandle communities who need it.
TV20’s Landon Harrar went with one of the crews to show you how you can help after the hurricane.
As we flew towards some of the hardest hit areas, the massive numbers of downed trees and demolished buildings tell a story of their own.
Emmanual Hires is a deputy sheriff for the Calhoun County Sherrif’s Department, which is one of the multiple location supplies are being sent to. Hires describes what most of his county looks like after Michael came through. “Probably the best way I can describe what I’ve seen is if you’ve ever looked at any footage of Vietnam during a bombing blitz that pretty much matches the shape we’re in.”
And flying straight into these affected communities, pilots on their own time with their own planes are banding together to get much-needed supplies to areas like Blountstown and Appalachicola as a part of Operation Airdrop.
Erin Porter is a spokeswoman for Gainesville Regional Aiport and she explained who truly runs Operation Airdrop. “These are private pilots and this grassroots organization began during hurricane Harvey where aviators said hey how can we help and so they banded together and started this organization Operation Airdrop which has grown and they’ve been at every single major hurricane since then.”
Arlen Stauffer is one of Operation Airdrop’s volunteer pilots, he said. “A hundred airplanes can carry tons of supplies and things that are needed in a short amount of time it’s only an hour from here to Gainesville to get over there if you had to drive it would take a long time and some of the roads aren’t open.”
You can help the cause by donating supplies such as basic toiletries, diapers, easy meals which can be made without power and tarps to help keep future rains from doing even more damage. Just take all donations to the Gainesville airport and follow the operation airdrop signs to the correct hangar.
Porter says any kind of donation can make more of a difference than you might realize. “It’s easy for us to sit in our living rooms and watch football or whatever but just imagine a few hundred miles away there are people who don’t have anything anymore, they need help so it’s the least we can do.”
Even the smallest planes can take hundreds of pounds of supplies in a single trip, the bigger planes thousands. Operation Airdrop continues operations out of Gainesville Regional Airport until at least Tuesday afternoon and possibly later.