Florida Airboaters Recognized by Members of U.S. Congress

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The Florida Airboat Association was presented with a “Certificate of Recognition” issued through United States Representative Adam Putnam and Representative Mark Foley, of Florida for the Association’s involvement in the evacuation of flood victims in New Orleans, at the its quarterly meeting Saturday.

The Florida Airboat Association was presented with a “Certificate of Recognition” issued through United States Representative Adam Putnam and Representative Mark Foley, of Florida for the Association’s involvement in the evacuation of flood victims in New Orleans, at the its quarterly meeting Saturday.

The Certificate was accompanied by a letter of appreciation detailing the Florida Airboat Association’s involvement in the New Orleans evacuation effort signed by Rep. Putnam and Rep. Foley.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans, the Florida Airboat Association mobilized over 100 airboaters from across Florida and as far away as Ohio, with the potential of mobilizing up to 300 more if needed. Those who responded to New Orleans assisted in the evacuation of patients and medical staff from three major hospitals in downtown New Orleans.

While one group of volunteer airboaters evacuated the hospitals, another group canvassed the residential neighborhoods rescuing residents from their flooded homes, many who were stranded on their rooftops and in the attics of their homes.

It is known that over 1,500 patients and medical personnel were removed from the hospitals and medical centers; but, it can only be estimated how many residents were evacuated by airboat from the residential communities. That number is estimated to be into the thousands. Many of the volunteer airboaters gave up counting when the number of evacuees exceeded 100-150 per vessel.

The civilian volunteers airboaters braved civil unrest, toxic water conditions and the threat of illness to provide humanitarian assistance to their fellow man.

According to Cpt. Phil Walters, newly elected president of the Florida Airboat Association, “We knew that they had a resource that was capable of rescuing the New Orleans flood victims, that was unmatched by any other entity and we were not going dissuaded by the risks. It was our goal to save lives and reduce the suffering that we all saw on TV.”

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Lauren Brown

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