Hurricanes ravage Gulf Coast airports

The storms may have passed, but the effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita will be felt at airports in the Gulf Coast for a long time to come.

Several airports in the region were heavily damaged and have been shut down or have limited access.

For example, Lakefront Airport (KNEW) in New Orleans is closed indefinitely because of damage done by Hurricane Katrina. Photos of the airport taken after the storm show it underwater with the tops of buildings looking like docks.

Two FBOs at the airport that are part of a national chain have set up relief funds for their employees who were victims of the storm.

Donations can be sent to the disaster relief fund care of Million Air, 4700 Airport Road, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45226, and Macquarie FBO Disaster Relief Fund, Atlantic Aviation, Attn: Jill Crider, 6504 International Pkwy., Suite 1100, Plano, Texas, 75093.


The FAA has issued numerous NOTAMs restricting flight over the hurricane-damaged areas in order to make room for disaster relief aircraft. Be sure to check for NOTAMs before flying to those areas.

In the meantime, help in the form of supplies, money and manpower continues to arrive in New Orleans for the cleanup effort, including making repairs at damaged airports.

A team of building maintenance workers and electricians from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport offered its services to help rebuild and repair the damage at Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport (MSY). They left Phoenix hauling trailers filled with tools, food and other supplies a few days before Hurricane Rita hit. The group waited out the storm out of harm’s way, then was directed to go straight to Lake Charles Regional Airport (LCH) in Louisiana, where it immediately went to work repairing the airport infrastructure such as the water system and perimeter fence, and replacing broken windows in the control tower. The Phoenix team is part of a small army of civilian aviation workers made up of pilots, mechanics and airport workers bent on restoring air service to the battered region.

Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. At the opening session of the 14th Annual Airports Council International conference, Roy Williams, MSY’s director of aviation, expressed his gratitude for the support airports nationwide have offered in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“Hurricane Katrina has been a monumental crisis with a large portion of the recovery action taking place at the airport, including the rescue and healing effort,” he said. “We are tremendously grateful for the support of our airport colleagues who have helped us to get back up and running, setting the stage for recovery efforts and full operations.”

Help also came from Chapter 513 of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Instead of swapping hangar stories during its third annual Cajun Fly-In, members of the chapter from Houma, La., gathered some 3,000 pounds of relief supplies for the storm-ravaged areas. The group’s home field is Houma-Terrebone Airport (HUM), which is about 45 miles from New Orleans.

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