In the Bahamas Relief Effort, Florida Tech Alumni Displays Leadership in Brevard County
By Paul Alfrey, Melbourne City Council // September 17, 2019
Issac Silver: Everyone is making a difference. I firmly believe the aid we've provided was critical.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Brevard was one of the first boots on the ground in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian. Hundreds of volunteers have prepared shipments that have been loaded up on twenty flights flown by the Florida Tech Alumni and private pilots.
Even the Valiant Air Command from Titusville has made history again, as the Tico Bell that once flew in War World II, flies this time in a major Humanitarian Mission.
Each pilot can see how Brevard’s generosity has made a difference.
The following story from one pilot, Issac Silver, Associate Dean of Flight Operations and Deputy Director of FIT Aviation, College of Aeronautics, is an excellent summary:
We’ve been very busy. I’ve been posting a lot of photos but haven’t had time to describe what we’re seeing on the ground.
I’ve now had the privilege of crewing nine relief flights in three different aircraft. We’ve been to Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, Freeport, Sandy Point and North Eluthera.
I would like everyone who has taken part in this effort, gathering supplies, logistics, loading, unloading, fundraising, promoting, facilitating, etc, to please tag yourself on this post by placing your name in the comments.
A few of us have been on the ground, but the flying was the easy part and none of this could have happened without all of the work here in Brevard. When Miguel Estremera called me on 9/4, this was all an idea.
When I landed in Melbourne that night, it had become a reality.
Every mission we’ve flown has produced a positive impact on the people we served. Countless folks asked me to relay their thanks back to all of you. I’m sorry I haven’t had time to pass that on until today.
We had local heroes on Abaco too. Obbie and Ferguson, two customs agents, along with a few members of the local government and some citizens we never formally met, made sure that all of our supplies into the hardest-hit areas were distributed where they were most needed.
We witnessed people who had been waiting outdoors, sleeping on cots and boxes that we delivered, taking shelter under all of the tarps from the flights, patiently handing out food and water to each other even when none had access to a drink in a day or more.
Everyone there was civil and kind.
Other than the two customs officers, we did not see government or large aid agency support for the people we encountered. Going to Sandy Point early turned out to be a very important mission.
Now that we’re in a bit of a pause for the weather moving through, I wanted to take a moment and share what we saw over the past 8 days.
The relief effort so far has unfolded in three phases. Not planned, just a natural evolution as we determined what aid was needed:
• Phase 1 was the mass evacuation of Abaco. During that time we were flying supplies into Sandy Point, South Abaco. People there had been cut off to the north, trapped and hundreds were waiting to be airlifted by small GA plane to an evacuation point.
The supplies we brought in were instrumental in keeping those people going until they could get a ride. Several people told us that our planes were the only ones coming in with the type of aid they needed while waiting in line. For three days, people waited.
Abandoned cars piled up, all of the gas drained for the few generators that were running.
On day four, the first boats made their way to the island and our supplies were trucked from Sandy Point up to boat terminals and other queuing areas. By Day 5, the vast majority of the people of Abaco had been evacuated or had chosen to stay with their property.
• Phase 2 was delivering supplies and infrastructure support to the Marsh Harbor area. We delivered Generators for watermakers using the Tico Belle, and flew specific support supplies into Treasure that had been requested by relief workers.
During the C-47 flight, we took several of the generators to North Eleuthera where they were placed on boats to be taken to out islands.
• Phase 3 is in progress and is delivering specific mission-critical aid to the displaced individuals who have been evacuated to Freeport and Nassau. Medical Supplies, generators, temporary shelter, etc.
We have some needs/missions slated for the next few flights. Possibly a mobile hospital to Treasure Cay, more generators and watermakers, more medical supplies to Freeport.
Everyone is making a difference. I firmly believe the aid we’ve provided was critical.
Thanks to everyone who is making this happen.
As we continue to work to prepare a warehouse full of supplies I cannot thank the Florida Tech Alumni Association and each private pilot who has flown enough.
Each volunteer and donor has made a difference in the time of crisis in the Bahamas.
– Paul Alfrey, Melbourne City Council
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Alfrey represents Melbourne’s District 5 (view a map of Council Districts). He was elected to the Melbourne City Council in 2016. His current term ends in 2020. He is also a member of the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization.
Alfrey is an entrepreneur and Melbourne multiple small business owner. He is a Florida Certified Contractor, Home Inspector and Insurance Agent and President of Alfrey Roofing, incorporated, American Standard Insurance Group and former owner of Humpty Dumpster.
Alfrey served as a law enforcement officer, including three years at the Sanford Police Department and 12 years at the Melbourne Police Department, retiring in 2012.
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