LAKE CITY, SC (WMBF) – For the first time, the Lake City Municipal Airport will be the newest headquarters for aircraft that will be used for disaster relief.
AERObridge is a nonprofit organization based out of Washington D.C. and formed after Hurricane Katrina. The group’s mission is to respond to extreme need when it comes.
The Lake City Municipal Airport is centrally located between Hilton Head and Elizabeth City. AERObridge will now serve the Carolina’s chapter from Lake City.
AERObridge needs to have the right space and location and the Lake City Municipal Airport is one of seven around the U.S. the organization has chosen to be a major logistic staging area.
“With AERObridge coming to Lake City, it’s really another example of Lake City moving forward and progressing in a positive way,” said Seth Kines, executive director of Visit Lake City.
AERObridge has a network for consistent donations. Non-perishable goods such as water and blankets will be stored at the airport now as well.
“The hangers at the airport are privately owned and we helped coordinate with local individuals to help donate space within the hangers for AERObridge, so it’s just a local partnership with AERObridge. There are no financial ties or anything,” Kines said.
Previously, AERObridge operated out of Bamberg, S.C.
“They also partnered with the state of Georgia, and the state of Georgia broke off and decided to do their own chapter, so that left North and South Carolina for a centralized hub that was central to North and South Carolina. Bamberg was kind of brought in to incorporate Georgia as well,” Kines said.
He added he really pushed to make this happen, saying he has been in communication with AERObrige for the past six months.
“They’ve already helped and assisted with disaster relief in this area – they assisted with the floods in 2015 – so they are familiar with the area,” Kines said. “And with us being so close to the coast, of course one of the top priorities here is flooding and hurricanes.”
Kines said AERObridge pilots will meet with volunteers on a monthly basis and do training exercises. Additional training will also be scheduled on a yearly basis.
“They’ll have pilots from all over the southeast come in and actually simulate trips to Asheville or Wilmington or Myrtle Beach,” Kines said. “They also want to work closely with Junior ROTC in the local high schools and really involve the community and build a network of volunteers.”
The next training exercise will be held during a Saturday in September and the continue once a month. The city invites any volunteers from the community to come out and see what it’s all about.
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