Angel Flight(R) America Reunites Hundreds of Hurricane Katrina Victims With Their Families

ADDISON, Texas, Sept. 8 /PRNewswire/ — Angel Flight(R) America (AFA), a national organization dedicated to serving people in situations of compelling need by arranging free air transportation through volunteer general aviation pilots, continues to work around the clock assisting Hurricane Katrina victims.

Angel Flight(R) is on the front line every day of the year helping children and adults in need access life-saving medical care. The national network also arranges flights of compassion and disaster response. Currently, their requests have sky-rocketed — each is an amazing story.

As one AFA leader, Butch Smith of Plano, Tex. said, “We’re flying hundreds of missions, helping hundreds and hundreds of people covering thousands of miles.” Generous volunteer pilots are donating their time, airplanes and fuel from all corners of the nation to assist those affected by the devastating floods from Hurricane Katrina.

At the request of numerous state and local agencies, shelters run by The American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), even though AFA receives no federal funding, AFA has been moving high-risk people to safer locations and flying emergency workers, agency staff, volunteers and supplies into flood-ravaged areas. Over the past week at least 500 missions have been flown, and, as more and more needs for Angel Flight’s unique service are identified, that number is growing at an exponential rate.

AFA Executive Director Ken Rusnak said, “The relationships we established in the aftermath of 9/11 with other disaster response organizations through the creation of the Homeland Security Emergency Air Transportation System (HSEATS) funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service are helping us all respond as quickly and safely as possible. Communication and cooperation are essential tools in a situation like this.”

“Reuniting families and relocating evacuees is our priority now as response efforts shift from the initial rescue efforts,” said AFA representative Sarah Riehm of Addison, Tex. “The situation is just overwhelming so we’ve had to prioritize those requests that best fit our mission and resources.”

Mission coordination teams working 24/7 in several locations throughout the country are focusing their professional efforts, limited funds and volunteer pilot resources on requests to:

* Reunite families separated during the evacuation
* Relocate families out of shelters that have confirmed safe housing

Angel Flight staff and coordination volunteers have been on the ground in Baton Rouge, Louisiana spreading the word through shelters that transportation is available while teams in other areas of the country are working with regional and local agencies and hospitals. Children, along with other men and women dislocated in the storm are being reunited with their parents and other family members.

Angel Flight passengers are never charged for the flights arranged by AFA and provided by generous volunteer pilots. AFA, the nation’s largest charitable aviation network flying approximately 17,000 missions over the last year, exists solely through donations from individuals, companies, organizations and foundations that cover the many expenses associated with matching passengers and charitable aviation resources.

“We are in desperate need of donations to literally give a ‘lift’ to stranded Americans,” said AFA Chairman Edward R. Boyer. “We are estimating that the total cost of Angel Flight relief missions will be at least 2 million dollars.”

For more information, to donate and to volunteer visit or call the Angel Flight America Hurricane Disaster Response Headquarters at 1-800-989-2602. Media contacts are asked to contact Christel Gollnick at 816-421-2300, ext. 203.

Angel Flight America is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt charitable organization.

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