As calls for help and evacuations started pouring in, several individuals and companies began making trips to Hope, bringing in the stranded. However, a Pitt Meadows resident realized these rides were going in empty, and could instead be carrying supplies.
Jeremy Prasad, owner of Turbolyft, a Pitt Meadows-based company specializing in helicopter parts and repairs, put a call out to muster a relief effort.
“I started calling friends and business associates asking if we could start packing in loads, and everyone immediately responded. I posted on social media and that post got shared to bring in hundreds of strangers donating generously,” he said.
Prasad opened his helicopter hangar at the Pitt Meadows Airport as a drop-off point, and started working on coordinating with helicopter companies and private fliers. He also put his staff on the ground in Hope, coordinating with the needs and requirements.
“We are just a conduit, who are providing a space for people to bring stuff in. They are the ones who are actually bringing things and donating, and flying them to people who need these things,” Prasad said humbly.
Of the several people and groups, including many church groups who dropped off donations, the biggest contributions have been coming from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) realtors and friends, organized by Ron Basra and Phil Moore.
“That group of realtors brought in an amazing amount of stuff, so much that we are now moving past Hope, to Princeton and Boston Bar to drop off the essentials,” said Prasad.
Basra and Moore put a call out to their group of realtors, as well as friends and families and were inundated by requests and drop-offs immediately. Realtors from all over Lower Mainland have since been pitching in.
“We are realtors, we help people get homes, and to see people displaced from their homes and on the highways and roads, it was heartbreaking. So we decided to do something to chip in,” said Moore.
The group was armed with truckloads of supplies and essentials from milk, bread, to diapers and blankets and were on the ground helping out right from Tuesday afternoon.
“We took the initiative on Tuesday afternoon. We had just one flight on Tuesday night, but on Wednesday, we had 16 flights going out. Today we had 300 jugs of milk and 300 loads of bread going out. And since Tuesday, we have partnered with pilots, and brought together several realtors,” said Basra.
He also pointed out that Turbolyft’s coordination efforts have been remarkable and that took a huge load off them.
“We can be boots on the ground and collect things and drop them off. But Jeremy has been coordinating with different helicopter companies, managing the deliveries, has his staff loading and unloading and is basically in-charge of the entire distribution efforts. We fill up his hangar with food and supplies, and he takes it through the right channels,” Basra noted.
Their group has not only been partnering with helicopter companies, private pilots and with Turbolyft, but also has been trucking essentials to Abbotsford. Their priority however now, is going to be Merritt.
“Merritt is out of everything. The food bank there, their fridge is empty. So we want to now focus on sending food and essentials there,” said Moore.
The Greater Vancouver Food Bank who has also been coordinating efforts with the food banks there told The News that they brought more than 5,000 lbs of healthy fresh and non-perishable food and essential supplies to Hope Food Bank and Camp Hope last Thursday, Nov. 18, with the generous donation of helicopters and pilots from an anonymous company, along with first responder volunteers.
In the meantime, the realtor’s group, as well as Turbolyft have now halted any requests for drop-offs, but will continue flying out with supplies they have in stock, to various remote locations impacted by the floods including Boston Bar and Tulameen.
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