All-volunteer relief effort brings supplies from Langley to flood-ravaged communities – Peace Arch News


Volunteer pilots flying from Langley Airport on Sunday delivered nearly 20,000 pounds of relief supplies to flood-ravaged communities in British Columbia.

In just a few days, organizer Shaun Heaps said the all-volunteer effort had grown from two planes and one helicopter to 24 planes and two helicopters.

“We have tons and tons of support,” commented Heaps.

Heaps said the helicopters helped deliver donated food and other needed supplies directly to remote rural indigenous communities.

“He lands in a field and then takes off,” is how Heaps described it to the Langley Advance Times.

A volunteer loads supplies onto a plane at Langley Airport for delivery to a flood-ravaged Fraser Valley community on Sunday, November 21. (Dan Ferguson / Langley Advance Times)

Deliveries are flown to various communities hard hit by flooding that followed record rainfall, including Hope, Merritt, Princeton and Lillooet, Heaps said.

“I don’t really know how it started,” Heaps said during a brief break between loading the planes on Sunday.

“I just started getting phones from friends who were trapped in Hope, so we took out Langley planes and a helicopter and that’s how it all started. We were stealing food that people donated, and we dropped food off in Hope and Chilliwack, [and were] pick up people and bring them back.

Sikh temples in the area accounted for the bulk of the food contributions, Heaps estimated.

However, the very first day of the effort, Tuesday, November 16, was cut short when all flights were halted in the afternoon due to a dispute between the airport and NAV Canada, the operators of the air traffic control tower.

Heaps called him “crazy”.

The volunteers were able to relocate to a nearby airfield and eventually emergency flights were cleared to resume, from a runway at Langley.

READ MORE: Flights shut down at Langley Airport as pilots try to save friends and family

In response to a request from the Langley Advance Times, NAV Canada issued a statement saying that “the decision to restrict access to the runways was made solely by the airport authority without the involvement of NAV Canada”.

He went on to say that NAV Canada, the airport authority and Transport Canada “were engaged in collaborative discussions as late as last Friday to find a solution to a concern identified by the airport authority. We had no notice of the airport’s intention to close the airport and remained available to provide safe service even during the closure. “

A volunteer described the process of putting supplies on a small plane as Tetris ??  while the volunteer flood relief effort continued on Sunday, November 21.  (Dan Ferguson / Langley Advance Times)

One volunteer described the process of putting supplies on a small plane as the Tetris “as the volunteer flood relief effort continued on Sunday, November 21. (Dan Ferguson / Langley Advance Times)

Heaps said the volunteer relief effort will continue for as long as time permits.

“Very happy to see all the people coming together to help with the state of emergency we find ourselves in,” he said.

Donations poured in to the West Coast Pilot club collection point, located at Hangar 2 at 5333 216th St., next to the Aviation Museum.

Donors and pilot volunteers can contact Heaps at 604-866-6705.

He also hopes to raise money to help cover the pilots’ fuel costs.

Donations can be sent by electronic transfer to [email protected] (password: helicopter).

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Langley Recovers From Record-breaking Rainstorm

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