Posted: Sep 19, 2020 2:53 PM
Updated: Sep 19, 2020 10:20 PM
EUGENE, Ore. — Volunteer private pilots from California arrived at the Eugene Airport in waves Saturday to deliver 100,000 KN95 masks and medical supplies.
The supplies were donated by Direct Relief, an organization based out of California that responds to disasters all over the world.
Twenty planes arrived throughout the day, bringing in over 5,000 pounds of supplies. This holds a value of around $150,000.
The volunteer pilots are with the California Pilots Association Disaster Airlift Response Team (CalDART) and Angel Flights West.
They loaded up supplies at the Santa Barbara Airport Saturday morning, as well as from other Northern California airports.
Andrew MacCalla is the Vice President of Emergency Response for Direct Relief.
"For three years in a row now, California had the most historic fires breaking records year after year,” MacCalla said. “Now, we are seeing that here in Oregon.”
MacCalla said he has been responding to disasters for 15 years.
“We know what’s needed,” MacCalla said. “We have the supplies to help. Then, it’s connecting with these great groups here on the ground that can distribute the supplies where they're needed and can help the firefighters.”
Volunteers with Reach Out Worldwide will be receiving and distributing the supplies to sites including the Evacuee Distribution Center at the Eugene Masonic Lodge, Lane County Public Health Department, Glide Revitalization and the Medford Expo Center.
Luke Rector is a team lead for Reach Out Worldwide, a nonprofit organization based out of California that founded in 2010 by Paul Walker.
“We’re going to try to get it all to the people who need it most and those who are kind of slipping through the cracks,” Rector said. “Maybe upriver, smaller camps, congregation camps -- that may have been missed by some of the donation sites.”
Rector said that, as a firefighter, it’s in his nature to want to help.
“This is just an organization that I love and I believe in,” Rector said. “I know they do a lot of good, so we can get out here and help as many people as possible with the help of RRW and Direct Relief.”
The airlifts that arrived carried enough medication and supplies to help up to 750 people. This includes inhalers, poison oak treatment, masks and other medical supplies to help vulnerable populations and the firefighters battling the blaze.
“You actually see the best of humanity in these times,” MacCalla said. “You really see people coming together. You really see people offering to help in whatever way they can. It's not just giving money. Sometimes it's giving time,” MacCalla said.
This is the first time Direct Relief has utilized a fleet of private pilots in this way to fly in supplies for those in need.