After Hurricane Michael made landfall and brought destruction to surrounding communities in and around Florida early last month many American Airlines Cargo employees took it on themselves to find ways they could help their local communities.
Most recently, the Miami team partnered with the American Red Cross to compile packages for those who lost everything in this year’s storms.
The group put together more than 5,000 boxes of hygiene kits for families in the area. Because of this collaborative effort, the American Red Cross was able to fill its trucks and send along help to people still staying at local shelters.
According to officials, 2017 saw more than 3,000 people lose their lives and over $282 billion worth of damage, including in Puerto Rico. The airline said the island territory was doomed from the start, with access being cut off from receiving the help and supplies needed.
American Airlines Cargo provided much-needed relief as major ports were blocked or inaccessible, Puerto Rican citizens were essentially stranded without help. The only option was to send help by air, something American Airlines Cargo took as an opportunity to offer.
President Rick Elieson said doing what needed to be done could only exist through a collaborative effort with freight forwarders. “Providing a first source of assistance after a natural disaster can be both challenging and dangerous,” he noted. “The 2017 season reinforced just how valuable our partnerships with freight forwarders are.”
Following Maria, American called on its employees to also take part in relief efforts. The internal program, called Operation Puerto Rico Strong, implored all employees to send relief packages to Puerto Rico at no cost. The results were nothing short of inspiring.
“Frankly, we were unprepared for the level of generosity,” noted Elieson. “Within a week more than 4,500 shipments weighing 830,000 pounds had poured in and this combined with the massive amounts of relief we were carrying on our extra widebody flights meant we moved more than 3,000,000 pounds of relief over a very short period and our first flights landed within 48 hours of the hurricane making landfall.”