The recent devastation from Hurricane Maria already feels like a thing of the past for many of us here in the comfort of our still-standing homes and offices. While it’s easy for many to forget about what happened in the Caribbean, many of these islands will be rebuilding for years to come.
At Blue Raven Solar, we recently helped sponsor a humanitarian airlift through Utah Warbird Adventures to provide relief to this country. Utah Warbird Adventures is an adventure experience company that combines vintage aircraft with the scenery of the Rockies, typically guiding exciting aviation adventures.
Barry Hancock, Owner for Utah Warbird Adventures, decided there was more to be done when he heard about the devastation after Maria. He teamed up with Rescue Global to bring supplies for distribution in the Caribbean islands. They went to Barbados to provide relief airlift missions, and for 2 weeks transported medical personnel, equipment, supplies, NGO workers, relief aid and other essentials to alleviate the suffering of those in these islands.
Most of their support was sent to Dominica. Dominica is one of the many affected islands by the recent strain of hurricanes to devastate the Caribbean and U.S., Hurricane Maria was the main culprit that demolished most of the country.
Dominica is not the Dominican Republic: it is an archipelago in the south Caribbean Sea. The island lies south-southeast of Guadeloupe and northwest of Martinique, essentially off the coast of Venezuela. Spanning only 290 square miles, the population sits around 71,000 (based on the 2011 census).
According to Dominica Airlift – Angels to Eden, because it is a sovereign country, it does not have the support from FEMA and the United States military like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Hancock flew relief flights every day, typically twice a day. They would load the plane with two thousand pounds of aid and fly from Barbados to Dominica, sometimes taking back passengers.
The aid they distributed totaled to twenty-four thousand pounds of supplies ranging from rice and beans, to diapers and dog food.
Speaking with Hancock after his trip, he said some of the biggest problems they face are that people are not getting relief through the government because of political affiliation. Corruption makes it difficult for everyone to get their share. Also, while cleanup is underway, it is slow and tedious, there is still mud and debris everywhere you look.
According to Hancock, they are cleaning up one block at a time. The first thing was to clear a path, but even attempting that, there was nowhere to put the debris, it’s a huge problem with no clear solution.
97% of the power grid was destroyed, vast majority still don’t have electricity. Running water is also still not available to everyone.
It doesn’t ever feel like enough. But it is something. As volunteer Michelle Guenard said on facebook,
“Sometimes this business of helping hurricane survivors feels like you’re showing up with a grain of sand when what they really need is a mountain.
It just flattens you.
But, then you take a breath and look around, and you see that everyone else is doing the same thing. They’re trying to find ways to give just a little bit more – to turn that one grain of sand into two…”
Barry said, “I leave the same way I began – almost. I don’t know where to end. Or how. But I have been changed for the better. It will be years before normality is fully restored on this tiny island nation. Much suffering is still ahead. Corruption is thick. In so many ways the realities are bleak, really. But I have met many kind and generous souls who are dedicated to their country and helping their fellow man – putting the needs of others ahead of themselves to make a difference in the world they live in. I want to be more like them. It makes the world a better place.”
Thanks to great volunteers and these amazing NGOs for their hard work to help the people that have lost everything. Utah Warbird Adventure’s trip is over, but there are still many ways you can continue to support the relief effort in the Caribbean.
Ways to donate:
NGO Rescue Global
Grassroots campaign Dominica Airlift- Angels to Eden