70 volunteer pilots take relief items to Bahamas from St. Pete

Bay Area organizations are flying into action helping those devastated by Hurricane Dorian.

A group of 70 pilots has offered their time and expertise to Sol Relief, a group dedicated to disaster relief in the US and Caribbean.

They will take flight from Albert Whitted Airport in St. Pete, with the most essential supplies onboard, to be distributed throughout the Bahamas.

Sol Relief was started by Jen Lockwood and a small group of pilots taking donations in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Now, two years later, the supplies donated couldn't be sorted fast enough. They have received close to one million in given and pledged donations.

Four planes full of disaster relief items left Tuesday morning, with more scheduled for Wednesday.

"I would hope someone would do it for me," volunteer Brenda Squires said as she helped sort donations from the community.

She came to drop off a donation, but when she saw the need, she went to work. Volunteers like her prioritize the most essential supplies and get them ready for takeoff.

"Immediate needs, chainsaws, and generators and stuff, so we can get an airport open, so we can get a runway open," Communication Director Mark Auchtung explained.

Auchtung expects to see a lot of heartbreak in the coming weeks.

"You do this and you think you're alone and then you see the people organizing the supplies. It's heartbreaking, it's nice," he said.

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To donate to Sol Relief, supplies can be delivered to St. Pete Air at 107 8th Ave SE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sol Relief asks only to bring items on its list of needs, which can be found at https://solrelief.org/dorian/. A monetary donation can also be made on the website.