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Story by David Haas/American Red Cross
Key Words: Emergency supplies, Hurricane Florence, Volunteers, Disaster Services
Sept. 25, 2018 – Attorney Jerry Myers saw enormous amounts of flooding as he flew his small plane over Elizabethtown, North Carolina, following Hurricane Florence.
“I saw a silo and a barn roof sticking through the water,” he said. “I knew there was a farm underneath that water.”
As an active board member of the Triangle Chapter of the Red Cross, Jerry knew about the damage caused by Hurricane Florence and wanted to help. His firm, Smith Debnam, already supports the Red Cross with an annual fundraising event, blood drives and voluntary payroll deductions.
A pilot friend told Jerry about Operation Airdrop, a Texas-based nonprofit that organizes volunteer aircraft owners/pilots to deliver essential relief supplies to people in the first week following a disaster. Jerry contacted the organization on Wednesday after the storm and within hours was at Raleigh–Durham International Airport’s general aviation terminal signing forms and having shipments matched to his airplane’s weight limits. There were 468 volunteer pilots at RDU supporting Operation Airdrop, which was formed in response to the devastating floods in Texas following Hurricane Harvey. When Florence drenched the Carolinas, they brought their expertise and volunteers to RDU to help.
Jerry made four deliveries between Wednesday and Friday. “When you get to do something you love and can do good at the same time, that’s wonderful. The work done by Operation Airdrop was a nice compliment to what the Red Cross was already doing,” he said.
“The unsung heroes are the air traffic controllers,” Jerry adds. “They handled quadruple the number of takeoffs and landings in the days after the storm…as 288,000 pounds of supplies were delivered to those in need, 400-800 pounds at a time.”
Smith Debnam has supported the Red Cross for more than 15 years and Jerry has been a board member for four years. He encourages others to get involved: “It’s a fantastic organization,” he said.
HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to fulfill its crucial mission. You can make a difference by volunteering at your local Red Cross chapter, or by making a financial donation to aid in Hurricane Florence disaster relief by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, by going to www.redcross.org or by texting FLORENCE to 90999 to make a $10 donation.