PORT HADLOCK — The Disaster Airlift Response Team flew in 5,000 pounds of food to Jefferson County that was then donated to local food banks.
The Disaster Airlift Response Team (DART) hosted an exercise Sept. 21 that took the coordination of 50 local volunteers, 25 pilots and 29 separate flights to transport food and other necessities collected in Kitsap and Clallam counties, Walla Walla, Anacortes and Bellingham.
DART is made of volunteer general aviation pilots who use their time and aircraft to aid in the event of an emergency. DART pilots are trained to respond to earthquakes and other disasters to bring in food, medical and other supplies to areas impacted by catastrophic events when state and federal resources are not available.
All the food that was transported to Jefferson County was gathered through food drives and was distributed between the food banks in Brinnon, Quilcene, the Tri-Area and Port Townsend.
“The turnout for this exercise was everything we had hoped for, and weather favored us,” Laura Guth, aviation coordinator for the Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management, said.
The flights began to land at 11 a.m., and teams of volunteers from the Community Emergency Response Team and amateur radio operators from the Volunteer Emergency Communicators team helped organize the landings and unloading of the planes.
“At one time, we had six planes coming in, one after the other,” Guth said. “Our volunteer scribes, led by Sheila Hunt-Witte, certainly had their work cut out for them.”
DART organizations have been active throughout the nation for several years, assisting with aid for Hurricanes Florence and Harvey and the Paradise Wildfire.
DART aircraft are assisting with the recovery of the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian and have flown over 500,000 pounds of supplies in so far.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].