Chapman Freeborn blog

The people of Honduras needed help

Chapman Freeborn is often called on to help with relief efforts around the world. This time was a little different. Honduras had just been through two catastrophic hurricanes, Category 4 Hurricane Eta and Category 5 Hurricane Iota. We got a call from our client Steve Keats, Vice President, Kestrel Liner Agencies about his client, Samaritan’s Purse, a well-known global, humanitarian aid organization. He asked if we could work together with Cerulean and Cargojet to move 45 tons of humanitarian aid cargo to Honduras – fast. Kestrel had worked with Samaritan’s Purse since 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

On November 1st , warnings were issued to both Nicaragua and Honduras and by November 3rd, the cyclone had progressed to a Category 4 hurricane and made landfall at the country’s borders with a peak intensity of 240 km/h (150 mph). Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Iota would make landfall as a Category 5 and devastating rain and floods would follow.

Planning for relief efforts were underway, and the Samaritan’s Purse disaster response team was already on the ground. They needed additional relief supplies to meet the critical needs of families impacted by the storms. Kestrel contacted Chapman Freeborn for assistance and a 767 Cargojet was quickly chartered out of Toronto. The plan was for the plane to arrive over the weekend in South Carolina at Greenville-Spartanburg airport, (GSP) and load to full capacity – hygiene kits, medical supplies, tents, water purification supplies, tarps, and other essential First Responder goods.

The chartered flight would land at Soto Cano Air Base (also known as Palmerola Air Base) a Honduran military base just south of Comayagua in Honduras. It houses about 1,200 – 1,500 troops from the U.S. and is also used by the Honduran Air Force academy. They were very accommodating, got the required permissions very quickly and were well organized.

On Saturday, November 28th, at 10:57pm, the ground handlers warned that a cold front was moving in and they would need to take 272 kilos of cargo off the plane due to weather conditions for flight take-off.  Steve, quickly checked his trusted weather resources, “Guys, there is no rain until 5pm and we’re wheels up at 9 am.” The cargo stayed put and they were good to go.

A few last minute things, like three cases of medicines had shown up that also needed to be refrigerated. It was a mad dash to the finish for the ground team to work fast and load everything including the medicines from the coolers. Sunday morning, November 29th, they were wheels up between 9 and 10am – help was on the way.

The Samaritan Purse team was on-hand at the air base to receive all the goods and their teams were ready to distribute immediately. They continue to aid families that have endured the devastation inflicted by the back-to-back hurricanes.

“So proud to be a part of this amazing team effort helping the people of Honduras recover! Thank you Kestrel, Cerulean and Cargojet, who all played a pivotal role!” Alfie Arrowsmith, Chapman Freeborn Airchartering.