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With expectations of flooded roads, damaged roads and bridges, and downed trees, military and first responders are putting helicopters on standby to assist with search-and-rescue (SAR) operations that might follow Hurricane Harvey into Texas.
At the same time, the civilian helicopter community is also preparing to assist with the aftermath of the hurricane, much as it assisted following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Helicopters can go where other vehicles simply can’t go,” said Matt Zuccaro, president and CEO of Helicopter Association International (HAI). “The military and public sector helicopter crews will likely be the first ones on the scene once the storm passes. They will provide SAR capabilities, firefighting, air ambulance services, and support law enforcement operations. That allows the commercial operators to come in and perform the work that they do best.”
To assist first responders, HAI maintains an emergency response database of helicopter companies able to provide additional support as requested by national, state, and local agencies. “All they need to do is ask. We’re ready to work with FEMA and offices in Texas to support whatever they might require after the storm,” continues Zuccaro.
Once crews have completed first response activities, helicopters can also provide support following the storm, such as assisting with moving emergency service crews around areas where roads remain impassable. “Helicopter crews can deliver fresh water, medical supplies, food, and other supplies quickly and efficiently,” adds Zuccaro. “They can assist with restoring the power infrastructure in the region, and even clear downed trees from roads.”
“Simply, we’re ready to help whenever and wherever helicopters are needed.”