Worldwide hurricane help from Albany, Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Worldwide hurricane help from Albany, Georgia

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September 5, 2007

Albany--  We're at the peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. So far, the United States has been lucky this season but Central America was recently slammed by two category five storms. Help can always be on the way from right here in Albany.

We're quickly going through the alphabet-- Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dean, Erin and then there's Felix. So far he's killed more than 20 people in Nicaragua. The United States already stepped in.

"We put disaster relief packages into several countries now that have already been hit by Hurricane Felix," said Program Director Bill Lane.

Relief was sent to the area all the way from Albany, courtesy of the Humanitarian Assistance Program. "Most of the time it's blankets, sleeping bags, cots, tents, emergency cooking equipment," said Lane.

The Department of Defense runs it from the Marine Corps Logistics Base. It's the only shipping center in the United States. "We normally get a wish list from the country requesting the materials they need," said Lane.

Six bays are full of supplies to aid in disaster. Program Director Bill Lane has seen it all as he traveled to several different countries over the years. "If you get outside those resort areas, it's a different picture all together. That's the part that I go in and I see," said Lane.

It's his job to assess the needs and fulfill them but it isn't just disaster relief. The program helps aid the startup of schools and daycares in other countries, anything to help with recovery or rebuilding.

"We send anywhere from medical supplies, medical equipment, school supplies, vehicles," said Lane. Although global relief is the main goal of the program, there's never hesitation to help out here at home. Plenty of aid was provided when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast.

"we're prepared on an annual basis for any kind of disaster that goes on," said Lane.

Lane says they've been busy this year and plans for that momentum to continue with this busy hurricane season. It shows the dedication of the US to help out wherever and whenever.

"It helps us to reach out and get the hearts and minds of the people and I think we've done a good job," said Lane. In the next few weeks, they'll travel to these disaster areas to see what else is needed to help them recover.

The program also has distribution centers in Okinawa, Japan and Italy.  

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