Texas BizAv community unites for Hurricane Harvey relief
Owners and pilots of business airplanes along with managers at community airports, Fixed Base Operators, and a small army of other aviation-industry professionals are mobilizing to gather, transport, and distribute essential supplies for Hurricane Harvey victims in the greater Houston area, and areas affected by the catastrophic storm.
September 4, 2017 By Business Wire
These people are all a part of what is known as “business aviation” – the manufacture and use of mostly small airplanes for business transportation purposes. These airplanes are especially suited for disaster relief because of their flexibility: they often can reach locations adversely impacted by natural disasters, when airliners and many vehicles cannot; they often operate on short notice; and they are able to land in outlying airports with small runways, on unpaved airstrips, and, sometimes, even onto roads. Many of the professionals in this industry exceed at logistical coordination of the aircraft, making their expertise particularly applicable to multi-party collaboration on relief efforts.
Janine Iannarelli, founder and president of Houston-based Par Avion Ltd., and Robin Eissler, chief operating officer of Austin-based jetAVIVA, are working together to coordinate Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
“Through a newly formed arrangement, Patient Airlift Services (PALS) and Sky Hope Network have joined forces and resources for a response to both the Houston flooding and Hurricane Harvey damage along the Texas coast,” said Eissler, a co-founder of Sky Hope Network, in an interview earlier this week. “The need for relief is going to be unprecedented. We are ready to run immediate flights to the Corpus Christi area, and we expect that we will be ready to run flights to Houston now that the rain has stopped.”
Those wanting to support this joint effort are invited to submit a brief application through PALS by calling 631-694-7257 or emailing RELIEf@PALServices.org.
“In addition to creating a bridge to cover the gap between aid from the Red Cross and that of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the collective effort is to deliver essentials to the smaller agencies and charitable institutions that are offering shelter and ultimately a way for people to rebuild their lives,” explained Iannarelli.
Relief efforts include working with non-profit organizations such as Clean the World and Keller Williams KW Cares program to provide supplies and ground volunteers to support the airlift.
The work being done by Eissler, Iannarelli, and countless others is receiving support from the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), which represents more than 11,000 entrepreneurs and companies that rely on business aviation to meet at least part of their transportation needs.
Since Hurricane Harvey descended upon Texas as a Category 4 storm on Friday, Aug. 25, the NBAA’s members, the association’s regional representatives, and the organization’s Washington, DC-based staff have offered a resource for gathering information about available aircraft, volunteers and other assets for relief assistance, in the form of NBAA’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Operator (HERO) database. The information in this database is updated in real time and provided for initiatives like those underway in Texas.
Over the past several years, NBAA members have volunteered their skills and resources to aid victims of other natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and Super Storm Sandy. To date, more than 60 aircraft and more than 50 business aviation professionals are enlisted in the database for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, with more becoming involved daily.
Iannarelli noted that Eissler and the NBAA, supported in part by the HERO database, have been effectively coordinating on airlift and ground operations for Harvey relief.
“I’m very active in the aviation community and have built a lifetime of contacts and a broad network,” said Iannarelli, who has worked in the business aviation industry for 34 years. She also chairs the Texas Governor’s Aerospace & Aviation Advisory Committee. “It occurred to me that I could draw on my network to help contribute to the relief effort in Houston. I am also reaching out to people in a variety of industry sectors that may be able to support our efforts.”
Among the supplies in focus for air-and-ground delivery as flood waters recede include, but are not limited to, non-perishable food items; baby formula, and diapers; cleaning products; personal hygiene products for men, women and children; adult and children’s undergarments and socks; linens and bedding; and gift cards for access to fuel, super stores, and home improvement stores operated by national providers or Texas-based providers. Pet supplies are also welcome. Items in smaller, flexible packaging are better suited for transporting on business airplanes due to cabin and cargo space limitations.
Some of the many supporters of the business aviation community’s Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts include, but are not limited to: Conroe North Houston Regional Airport; Chennault International Airport in Lake Charles, La.; Houston Executive Airport; and Gary Greene/Better Homes and Gardens realtors branch office in the Clear Lake area (south of downtown Houston and north of Galveston) of Houston). Tremendous support is growing daily for this critical relief effort.