Dorian Update: 3-Weeks into HLP Airlift Efforts
As of today, HLP has operated 47 segments, transported 99 Passengers, and moved 15,510 LBS of cargo between South Florida and The Bahamas. We've serviced Treasure Cay, Nassau, Freeport, and Marsh Harbor from Lantana, Opa Locka, and West Palm Beach FL. The mission has been extremely successful so far. These operations have supported a variety of missions from moving around Search and Rescue teams to delivering supplies such as roofing materials, generators, clothing, food, water filtration and water, tools, medicine, medical supplies, and pet/animal welfare supplies. The passengers we've flown have consisted of evacuees, relief workers, doctors, nurses, and reporters. All lift so far has been provided utilizing PA-23 Aztec, Cessna 310, and Aerostar-600 aircraft. All operations have been funded through donations which have gone almost entirely to fuel purchase.
Despite a lack of reporting in the mainstream press, the situation in many parts of The Bahamas remains dire. Abaco is by far, the hardest hit island, and Grand Bahama is a close second. Marsh Harbor (MYAM), Freeport (MYGF), and Treasure Cay (MYAT) are the airports which HLP is servicing most frequently. Though the official death toll remains unrealistically low, many thousands are missing, and presumed deceased.
Entire neighborhoods are completely leveled and the damage appears absolutely catastrophic from the air. At the aforementioned airports, nearly constant air traffic (mostly small aircraft and air taxi services) continue to shuttle cargo and relief workers in and passengers out. Freeport International is the site of most of the heaviest humanitarian airlift operations. For the first two weeks, a passenger screening and staging area, as well as continuous cargo receiving operations are in progress throughout the daylight hours; however, everything shuts down at 7PM nightly due to a lack of lighting. Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbor have similar procedures in effect, but are handling a smaller volume of lighter aircraft. There are numerous displaced and homeless citizens, and finding shelter is an ongoing problem. HLP has been able to transport quite a few Bahamian residents back to South Florida; however USCBP polices have been quite restrictive, and all Bahamian and Haitian passport holders must have valid US Visas for entry into the United States. Even those with family in the US are having issues getting visas for young children due to the volume of requests and the status of immigration offices and facilities.
HLP will continue to operate as we have been, to the best of our ability, and with the aircraft and financial resources which we have available. The average flight Segment costs us $800-$900 USD, and it is imperative that we continue to raise funds so that we can sustain a fairly consistent free airlift program. Please consider donating if you have the means!