When Hurricane Harvey struck, leaving cities like Rockport and Beaumont devastated, cut off from supplies, Georgetown Municipal Airport became a hub for relief.
In under a week, it sent over 206,000 pounds of supplies to areas in desperate need.
“This is a model going forward for disaster relief,” State Representative Dade
Phelan (R-Beaumont) said.
On Wednesday afternoon, he spoke at a reception honoring the pilots who volunteered their time and money to fly out supplies, volunteers who donated items and time, and the folks in the business aviation community who orchestrated it all.
One of these organizers is Robin Eissler.
Her relief nonprofit Sky Hope Network recently joined up with Patient Airlift Services (PALS).
“All these generous aircraft owners call and say, ‘What can we do to help?’ My role is to figure out where they need the help,” she said.
“What this shows us is how important these little airports are. Our little airport in Georgetown helped keep people alive during these disasters.”
Ms. Eissler estimated the pilots donated a collective $2 million in flight costs, to say nothing of the donated
Representative Phelan spoke to the dire straits his district faced. He spoke of flooded streets, of babies in need of formula, diabetics in need of insulin and entire cities without access to drinking water. Help from the airport was able to meet those immediate needs.
“I’ve got a stack of body bags in Southeast Texas not being used because of this,” he said.
He presented everyone with a Texas flag, a symbol of his gratitude.
Ken Mabe, GTU Jet manager, outlined the different groups that helped pull off relief efforts.
Russ Volk, airport manager, made sure things kept moving all weekend; Joe Contrera, with United Rentals in Round Rock, offered supplies; Christine Tomaszewski, with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, put out calls for donations; Business owners like Robert Garrett, of Fullhouse Barbecue, supplied food to hungry volunteers; High school students helped load planes; Celebration Church’s massive network brought supplies and volunteered and on and on.
“We all played our roles, it’s all very important to what we did,” Mr. Mabe said.