Oct. 25, 2016

When Hurricane Matthew tore through the Caribbean earlier this month, it left hundreds dead and significant damage in its wake. Matthew hit Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas as a Category 3 and 4 hurricane bringing pounding rain, powerful winds and dangerous storm surges. After the storm passed, Fort Lauderdale, FL-based Tropic Ocean Airways was ready to respond.

“We take it to heart when there’s a disaster in the Bahamas,” said Rob Ceravolo, CEO and founder of Tropic Ocean Airways. “This is our backyard; the Bahamians are our friends and family. We’re able to get into remote locations where others can’t, including landing seaplanes to deliver supplies to beaches if runways have been damaged.”

While large aid organizations are focused on Freeport and Nassau, Tropic Ocean Airways has been working in West End, Grand Bahama and northern Andros Island, which were significantly affected by Matthew. In addition to carrying supplies, the company recently partnered with a Disaster Assistance Response Team from California, and transported the first responders to the area to provide medical aid, assess other needs and provide reports to the Bahamian government.

This isn’t Tropic Ocean Airways’ first offer of aid in hurricane recovery. The company has also provided assistance following Hurricane Joaquin in 2015, when it used its entire fleet to deliver more than 25 tons of supplies to the Bahamas.

Ceravolo hopes the company’s work will act as a “force multiplier,” leading to more business aviation organizations providing aid after disasters. It’s likely it already has, as Ceravolo is happy to report a much larger response from small aircraft operators this year.

“NBAA commends Tropic Ocean Airways and others in the business aviation community for their proactive and selfless efforts to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew,” said Greg Voos, NBAA’s Southeast regional representative. “While other issues dominate the U.S. news cycle it can be easy to forget people are still suffering and need our help.”

Voos encourages business aircraft operators to register in NBAA’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Operators (HERO) database, a list of aircraft and volunteers from the business aviation community able to participate in disaster response efforts. Learn more about the HERO database.

“Following a natural disaster or other major emergency, aid organizations need fast access to transportation for volunteers and supplies,” said Voos. “Business aviation is uniquely suited to meet these needs, as our industry is able to respond quickly and fly into locations difficult or impossible for airlines or other modes of transportation. Business aviation’s contribution to those suffering after a disaster can be priceless, as demonstrated by Tropic Ocean Airways.”