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   Vol. 18 No. 60
Tuesday September 24, 2019
Dorian Disaster Brings Out The Best In Air Cargo
United Dorian Relief
Nearly 100 aid workers as well as 30,000 lbs. of relief supplies were on board United's employee driven humanitarian flight to the Bahamas.

     Dorian spun into the northeastern Bahamas as the most powerful Category 5 storm on record. Its eyewall passed directly over Great Abaco and its outer islands before stalling over Grand Bahama for nearly 40 hours. Powerful gusts topping 220 miles per hour destroyed or damaged almost every structure they encountered. Marsh Harbour International Airport was completely flooded for at least two days. At least 70,000 homes were destroyed – at a conservative estimate of 4 people per household, that represents 80% of the population. At 5 inhabitants per home, nearly the entire population would be rendered homeless.
     Most of us who read this in the news could scarcely imagine the scale of suffering this implies – we pause briefly and move on to the next story. Having personally spent time over there, I can assure you that Dorian devastated the islands, wrecking households and businesses, leaving nearly everyone without food, shelter, and medical care. The entire economic infrastructure of the country – roads, buildings, businesses and vehicles – has been destroyed.
     Amerijet, a 787 all-cargo schedule airline serving the Bahamas, recognized the urgent need and, despite the risk to its planes and people, immediately began flights of 787-300’s packed with aid supplies into an airport which had been under water only a day before.
     The U.S. military, as always, also answered the call. Few of us appreciate how rapidly and deliberately TRANSCOM and Air Mobility Command (AMC), the organizations responsible for the bulk of military air logistics, have always treated humanitarian disaster relief as an urgent mission. Ably led by Gen. Steve Lyons and Gen. Maryanne Miller, both commands immediately sprung into action, deploying teams to the islands in the storm’s immediate aftermath.
     Larger aircraft would have difficulty because of limited usable space at the airport, so even as work crews cleared the rubble, Gen. Miller took smaller C130 cargo aircraft off of other missions to deliver urgently needed supplies into the Bahamas to save lives and start the rebuilding process.
     AMC, which has the C-17s, larger aircraft capable of landing in austere conditions, piled them high with aid and started flying as many flights as the island infrastructure could support. Slower moving but more capacious ships loaded with relief supplies were also dispatched by TRANSCOM.
     It’s easy to equate military aircraft with fighting wars and destruction, but never forget that our men and women in uniform are also a lifeline for those struck by natural disasters, saving countless lives.
Bill Boesch

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