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California Relief Squadron Flies Aid to Wildfire-Scarred Oregon

Volunteer pilots with California Disaster Airlift Team load Direct Relief supplies in response to Oregon wildfires. (Photo: Lara Cooper)
Volunteer pilots with California Disaster Airlift Team load Direct Relief supplies in response to Oregon wildfires. (Photo: Lara Cooper)

A flying armada organized by volunteer pilots flying private aircraft today delivered 100,000 KN95 respirators from Direct Relief’s California-based humanitarian distribution center to residents and firefighters in Oregon’s worst-hit fire-zones.

The airlift also includes medications and supplies to treat up to 750 people, including firefighters, for health conditions often associated with wildfire emergencies. Items include inhalers for people with respiratory diseases, antibiotics for dermal and ophthalmic injuries, irrigation solutions, wound care products, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.

California to Oregon

The volunteer pilots from the California Pilots Association Disaster Airlift Response Team (CalDART) and Angel Flights West loaded their planes at Santa Barbara Airport Saturday morning with the Direct Relief-donated materials before departing for Eugene, Oregon, some via secondary staging areas at Northern California airports.

“Hopefully, the rain expected this weekend in Oregon will bring much-needed moisture to the area,” said Levi Maaia, a volunteer pilot and flight operations coordinator for CalDART based in Santa Barbara. “I’ll be keeping a close watch on the weather and smoke conditions as I plan my flight from here to Eugene in our Cessna.”

Levi Maaia with CalDART flying over California with medical aid from Direct Relief. (Courtesy photo.)

In Eugene, volunteers with Reach Out WorldWide are 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.

“Having lived in Oregon and having so many friends and ROWW volunteers up there directly affected by this fire, it’s really personal for us to be able to help out,” said Cody Walker, CEO of Reach Out WorldWide. “Especially the rural communities – they’re strong, and they’re resilient – but right now they need help. Huge thanks to Direct Relief for answering this plea and assisting ROWW in a big way to get critical supplies to those who need it now.”

Ongoing Wildfire Response

As a California-based nonprofit disaster relief and medical assistance organization, Direct Relief responds each year to wildfires and other emergencies in both its home state and throughout the U.S. and has done so for decades.

Today’s emergency airlift follows several recent deliveries from Direct Relief in response to requests from Oregon-based health facilities and organizations dealing with concurrent crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and record-setting wildfires.

So far this wildfire season, Direct Relief has supported more than 30 health centers, public emergency response offices, and county health departments across California, Oregon, and Washington with more than 70 deliveries of protective gear, respiratory aids, ophthalmic supplies, tetanus vaccines, and other requested medicines and supplies.

“We will do whatever we can to help out and stand with our neighbors in Oregon know from experience how utterly devastating these fires are for people, families, and communities they affect,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “The airlift today, which CalDART members organized rapidly and are doing at their own expense as volunteers, is a wonderful example of what these tough times can use more of — people stepping up, pitching in, and doing what they can in service to others who need some help.  We are deeply grateful to each and every one of them.”

Funded entirely with private charitable support, the organization is a longtime partner of the State of California through its Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), serves on California’s Business Operations Center (BOC), and coordinates its wildfire response activities with the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA).

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