Many think of Cape Air, which provides passenger service to Rutland and other northeastern cities, as a New England carrier. But the airline also serves Puerto Rico and The US and British Virgin Islands, areas hard hit by recent hurricanes.
In fact, the airline has 144 employees in the Caribbean, and is now trying to balance passenger and relief services.
All week, people have been dropping off donated items for hurricane victims at Rutland’s airport, where Cape Air operates three round-trip flights to Boston per day. But airline spokeswoman Trish Lorino says that while the airline just resumed limited service to all eight of it's Caribbean destinations, delivering donated items to them has been difficult.
“I think the assumption and the mistake is that because we fly to Boston and we fly to San Juan, that we have passenger service from Boston to San Juan," says Lorino. But she explains they don't fly between the two cities. "Therein lies the challenge, in that we’re not able to get supplies from Boston to San Juan.”
Lorino says they’ve been working with partners like Jet Blue and United to transport goods from Boston to San Juan, where Cape Air has a large hub. Cape Air's regional planes have then been flying those supplies to other locations in the region, but she says donated goods may not be as helpful as money right now.
“We’re hearing from everyone who wants to send supplies down there and what we’re hearing back from our employees, local residents and authorities down in Puerto Rico that the real need is for people to donate cash and sending supplies down is very, very challenging," Lorino says. "Storing donations is challenging and distributing them is challenging as well.”
Lorino suggests anyone who wants to help should donate money through the American Red Cross or other state-sponsored aid agencies.