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Nov. 18, 2016 // Hurricane Matthew: Relief Efforts

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Below, read a message from Miami Center controller Steven Wallace on how the NATCA Disaster Relief Fund aided our brothers and sisters in the Bahamas following Hurricane Matthew.

While the East Coast of the United States closely monitored Hurricane Matthew as it skirted its way north just offshore of Florida last month, our brothers and sisters in the Bahamas were not so fortunate. They had a front row seat for several days as one of the strongest storms in recent history battered their island, nation, and homes.

Fortunately for us, we have not had to endure the same hardship as our Bahamian neighbors in quite a long time and many of us have no idea how hard it is to continue life after a storm such as Matthew.

Hurricane1The sight of an area directly hit by such a powerful storm is jaw dropping. It’s very unpleasant to have to live and work for weeks and months following a storm. There is no water, no power, food is in extremely short supply, and then you have businesses, homes, and public works that are so damaged that they are not usable for extended periods of time.

Many families are not just without power, but also without suitable housing. The only place for them to live may have holes in the roof and/or windows missing while everything inside has been left dirty and wet following a storm like Hurricane Matthew.

Meanwhile, air traffic services must be restored as quickly as possible and continue to operate to ensure that needed supplies arrive and life for all people affected by the storm can continue as repairs are made. It can be difficult to focus on doing your job when you know that your family and home are suffering without water, air conditioning, or even refrigeration for food.

Enter NATCA and the NATCA Disaster Relief Fund. Shortly after the storm passed, South Florida NATCA members jumped into action and got in touch with our brother and sister controllers in Nassau and Freeport to assess their needs and make a plan to send help. NATCA members at Miami Center (ZMA) started a collection of goods at the facility and began making preparations for their delivery to the Bahamas.

ZMA NATCA members Mark Mihalaki and his daughter, Mely, along with John Lennox and his son, Joseph, went shopping at local supply houses to procure items in bulk such as batteries, camp stoves, gloves, tarps, toilet paper, tape, clothes, coloring books for the kids — basically anything and everything you can imagine that you must have to get through the day and night.

Mark, John and their children then got everything to the loading area where flights that were arranged by ZMA NATCA member Evan Munro then delivered goods to those in need in the Bahamas.

Congratulations to our NATCA team for their great work and a special “THANK YOU” to everyone that donated to the NATCA Disaster Relief Fund to help make all of this possible. NATCA members never cease to amaze me. Their dedication, commitment, and generosity are second to none!

For more from NATCA Insider contributor Steven Wallace, read his moving recollection of Hurricane Andrew.