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DALLAS/FORT WORTH: November 19, 2018. American Airlines Cargo employees have responded to local communities in the Florida Panhandle affected last month by Hurricane Michael that is estimated to have cost the US economy US$25 billion.

The Miami team partnered with the American Red Cross to put together more than 5,000 boxes of hygiene kits for families in the area.

American givingAccording to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last year the cumulative cost of the 16 separate billion-dollar weather events in the US was US$306.2 billion, breaking the previous record of US$214.8 billion in 2005.

In terms of insured U.S. coastal properties vulnerable to hurricanes, New York ranks number one with US$2.92 trillion, followed by Florida (US$2.86 trillion), Texas (US$1.17 trillion), Massachusetts (US$849 billion), and New Jersey (US$713 billion).

The two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico last year resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths, thousands homeless, the entire population without electricity for months, and caused reported damage of US$92 billion.

At the time, with major ports blocked or inaccessible, the only option was to send help by air and according to AA Cargo president Rick Elieson, the airline couldn’t have done it without the cooperation of the freight forwarder community.

"Providing a first source of assistance after a natural disaster can be both challenging and dangerous," he said. "The 2017 season reinforced just how valuable our partnerships with freight forwarders are."

Following Hurricane Maria, American also asked its employees to send relief packages to Puerto Rico at no cost: "Frankly, we were unprepared for the level of generosity,” Elieson continued. “Within a week more than 4,500 shipments weighing 830,000 pounds had poured in and this combined with the massive amounts of relief we were carrying on our extra widebody flights meant we moved more than 3,000,000 pounds of relief over a very short period and our first flights landed within 48 hours of the hurricane making landfall.”

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