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Caribbean calls out for help, Lowcountry pilot answers with hurricane relief | VIDEO

Cole Gaither (WCIV)

Cole Gaither and his globetrotting co-pilot Axle the french bulldog have spent their fair share of time in the sky.

Gaither has even called the Caribbean home.

"I lived in St. Croix during Hurricane Hugo," he said.

He's back from a recent trip to take supplies to friends who still live there and strangers. It was a flight, he said, that opened his eyes to a Caribbean calling out for help.

"What they were asking for was water and food, and that was a little disconcerting because that's more dire," he said.

He and his partners got to work. They stocked up one plane at their hangar at the airport on Johns Island. They ripped the seats out of another jet so they could load up as many generators, water and food as they could.

"It took me 11 hours to get there," he said. "We were really shocked at how dark Puerto Rico was. The mountains were all dark. It was alarming."

His first stop was St. Croix, where he focused his relief efforts.

"St. Croix sent all of its generators, pole trucks, supplies of water and canned food, transformers for poles, they sent all of that to St. Thomas and St. John, and then a week later Maria hit them and they had no one to send anything to them," he said.

Then, it was back in the plane for a flyover of the damage and to learn where he could help more people.

"As bad as St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix looked, Tortola looked ten times worse," he said.

Now, he's back home working with Direct Relief to raise money for medical supplies and Gleaning for the World to raise money to continue flights to the Caribbean.

His goal is to be back in the air by the weekend, but fuel is expensive. Each flight is about $10,000-$15,000 in fuel, according to Gaither.

"We're going to circle up and combine what we know, and we're going to begin flying relief into Dominica and Barbuda and into these small islands that no one is focusing on right now," he said.

If you'd like to donate money for fuel, click here.


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