It has been four days since Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast as a Category 4 storm – the largest to make landfall in Texas since 1961. As rain continues to fall on the Houston metro area through southern Louisiana today, rapid-response disaster and humanitarian relief organization Airlink is already working with the aviation community to fly in relief supplies and emergency personnel to the stricken region.
So far, Airlink is working with United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines to move relief workers and volunteers free-of-charge into the heaviest impacted areas. Airlink partner organizations Empact Northwest, Heart to Heart International, and All Hands are among the charities supported by the effort.
“Having the support of our airline partners is enabling us to take quick action and bring relief to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” said Steve Smith, Airlink Executive Director. “With specializations in search and rescue, providing medical assistance and conducting volunteer coordination, Airlink’s charity partners are addressing the most critical needs of the affected communities.”
United Airlines also has started a crowdfunding campaign to invite their customers to join in the relief efforts by giving a direct charitable donation to Airlink, and several other nonprofit relief organizations. United Airlines MileagePlus members also can donate miles to Airlink. Every 25,000 miles provides a flight within the U.S. for expert and volunteer relief workers.
Meteorologists have said the stalled, stubborn tropical storm will finally begin moving off the drenched U.S. Gulf Coast on Wednesday and weaken into a tropical depression. The remnants, however, will continue dumping heavy rains across the American Deep South and are likely to cause more widespread flooding through the end of the week. Some parts of Texas have already endured an unprecedented 50-plus inches of precipitation.
The Airlink organization helps link pre-qualified nonprofits with partner airlines for passenger and cargo transportation. Airlink’s rapid-response network includes 35 aid organizations and 70 commercial and charter airlines. Since its inception in 2010, Airlink’s airline partners have flown more than 4,000 relief workers and transported more than 1,500 tonnes of aid cargo.
As the effects of the flooding become clearer, Airlink said it anticipates a “significant increase in requests for its help,” and encourages members of the aviation community and others to make cash donations or seek more information via airlinkflight.org.
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