Community came together at South County Airport

The April 7 mobilization exercise of the South County Airport Pilot Association’s Disaster Airlift Response Team overcame heavy rain showers to expand the envelope in disaster preparedness for local emergency response agencies collaborating to alleviate potential transportation gridlocks.

Organization s directly participating in concert with SCAPA DART in the annual exercise were the Silicon Valley chapter of the American Red Cross,, Morgan Hill and Gilroy Community Emergency Response Team, Morgan Hill Office of Emergency Services, CAL FIRE, Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service,, Reid Hillview Community And Airport Partnership for Safe Operations, Santa Clara Valley 99s,, and the Gilroy Compassion Center. Also present as observers were Dana Reed, Director of Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Services and Jennifer Ponce, Morgan Hill Office of Emergency Services.

Although most flights were canceled due to inclement weather, late in the exercise the weather cleared. Colette Armao, retired Caltrans Division of Aeronautics, was flown in from Sacramento McClellan airport to participate as an observer, and a food transportation flight was launched and recovered.

The exercise resulted in the donation of 654 pounds of food to the Gilroy Compassion Center.

Significant community-related benefits and outcomes from this year’s exercise include:

First time that everyone in the surrounding communities was invited to participate by driving through the Commodity Point of Distribution at the airport where they could pick up flown – in disaster relief supplies – in this case a souvenir bottle of water

First use of Facebook and Nextdoor to announce the exercise to local communities

Half-page stories in the Morgan Hill Times and Gilroy Dispatch announcing the exercise

First collaboration with the American Red Cross

First partnering with the Second Harvest Food Bank to transport food

Donation of food to the Gilroy Compassion Center

First on-site exercise participation by county OES

Co-chairs Rod Pharis and Paul Marshall thank Mark van Wyk for stepping up as this year’s director of operations for the exercise, as well as the entire SCAPA team and so many partnering organizations for improving preparedness for the next big one. We give special thanks to the San Martin Lions for funding a portion of our operating expenses this year. In the words of our founder Rod Pharis, “This was SCAPA DART’s best mobilization exercise yet!”

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