A handful of Convairs and maybe a DC-3. That was the original plan for Operation Care Lift. Collect some supplies from friends and associates and pull every string imaginable to get access to airports in Puerto Rico where the supplies were desperately needed (and still are!) in the wake of last month’s Hurricane Maria. That plan fell apart in a hurry, in arguably the best way possible.
A pair of problems arose, one good and one bad. The charter operator canceled the booking, which is bad. Also bad is that those planes turned out to be not big enough. The volume of support ballooned from an initial goal of $10,000 and 7,000 pounds of supplies to more than $100,000 via the GoFundMe campaign and 50,000 pounds of supplies on the ground in Florida, waiting for the chance to fly into the hands of those who need them.
That’s a good problem, perhaps, but still a problem. Tons of supplies still needed to move from Florida to Puerto Rico and, as we all know, there’s a lot of water along that route.
— Chris Sloan (@airchive) September 29, 2017
It is good to have connections. It is even better when those connections understand the need and can make miracles happen. Spirit Airlines stepped up with an A321 – quite the upgrade from a Convair – and Lufthansa Technik offered logistical support on the ground in Aguadilla where it operates a maintenance facility.
Just as quickly as hopes for Operation Care Lift looked dashed things were moving again. Pallets of cargo were loaded. Cases of water were tucked in under nearly every seat on board. The flight went in and traded out supplies for those on the island for 200 evacuees, mostly elderly and infirmed.
— Chris Sloan (@airchive) October 3, 2017
And then a second flight. And then a third. And there is still more to come.
The volume of supplies is incredible and, at least for now, more than the operation can guarantee for timely delivery to the island. Which is not to say that anything is stopping. Quite the opposite, in fact. More flights for Operation Care Lift are being planned to clear the backlog of supplies and to bring the most vulnerable out.
Thanks to all who chipped in, with supplies, money, shares or anything else to help. And it is not too late if you still want to help.
Plus, of course, thanks to those working tirelessly on the ground to coordinate, both in Florida and in Puerto Rico.
And remember: Always look for the helpers. There are many of them, some you’ll never notice. But together we can make good things happen.