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Operation Airdrop dispatches pilots to deliver donations to Florence victims

September 20, 2018

One could call the scene at Raleigh-Durham International Airport controlled chaos.

Cars pulled up to the airport’s general aviation terminal Wednesday, loaded with supplies. Volunteers wheeled them through the terminal, where they were sorted, weighed and loaded onto planes to be flown to areas in need.

“We’re still kind of making this up as we go,” said pilot Ethan Garrity.

Garrity is from Texas, where Operation Airdrop started after Hurricane Harvey. Pilots, Garrity said, were eager to help but needed coordination.

Now, the nonprofit is taking off in North Carolina to help areas devastated by Hurricane Florence.

“This is my way to help,” said Mike Mower, a volunteer pilot.”

Volunteers consist of more than pilots. Through social medial, Operation Airdrop attracted John Shannon, who saw minimal damage in Raleigh.

“You’re sitting there waiting,” Shannon said. “People are OK.”

Emma Adams lives in Apex, but her mother grew up in storm-ravaged Lumberton.

“It’s just a big deal,” she said.

The project also flies below the bureaucracy radar that often plagues larger relief operations.

“What we figured out is we can be a lot more surgical,” Garrity said.

That means water, food, diapers, cleaning supplies and generosity move to where they’re needed now.

The private planes are landing in smaller airports in and around Wilmington, New Bern, Jacksonville and Lumberton. Volunteers connect with local church groups and nonprofits on the ground to distribute supplies.

To donate, go to 1725 E. International Drive in Morrisville or visit Operation Airdrop’s Facebook page.

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