Central Florida relief plane stocked with water purifiers heading to areas hit by Hurricane Beryl

Relief efforts are already in the works for those hit hardest by Hurricane Beryl. 

For more than 40 years, pilot Joe Hurston has made it his mission to fly into disaster-torn areas. Sometimes he is the first to bring aid.

"I’ve landed on roads, I’ve landed on beaches, I’ve landed on runways that were under mud," Hurston said.

With 3,000 Caribbean aid trips already under his belt, Hurston, founder and president of Air Mobile Ministries, is planning for his next disaster relief flight this week.

Hurston will fly his Cessna-337 named "Ti Burik", which is Creole for "The Little Donkey", the area most impacted by Hurricane Beryl. His exact flight plans are quite literally in the air, until he gets a better idea of where the category 4 hurricane does the most damage.

"I try to reach the areas that don’t get help, the islands," Hurston said. "On an island, you have no place to go. Many of these islands are at or just slightly above sea level. So, that’s where I focus my help."

With him, he brings 10 water purification systems. Each purifier can impact 1,000 people, he says.

"What we need to survive and thrive is 2 liters of clean water every day, or eight 8 ounces of water – half a gallon. That machine will do 20 to 25 gallons per hour. What that means is, every hour I’m giving 40 to 50 people all the water they need for the day – now, that’s only drinking water."

The 2024 hurricane season is off to a strong and early start, but timing is everything, said Hurston. Fresh off double total knee replacements, he said he is eager to lend a hand.

"Just something about being able to reach out and help some people in trouble is an amazing thing," Hurston said.

Each water purifier costs around $2,000, and it costs around $2,200 to fuel the plane. Air Mobile Ministries is still seeking donations to fund their humanitarian aid flight. 

For more information on the nonprofit, and for ways to donate visit: https://airmobile.org/