Philadelphia International Airport Welcomed U.S. Citizens Fleeing Lebanon; More Than 4,000 Received in Operation Evacuee Repatriation

PHILADELPHIA--()--Aug. 9, 2006--In one of the largest mobilization efforts in the history of Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), more than 4,000 Lebanese-American evacuees received a warm, friendly welcome back on U.S. soil as they arrived on 16 flights from July 21st through July 27th. PHL was the point of entry back home for the evacuees, many of whom endured a long and harrowing escape from the bombings in Lebanon. The U.S. government designated PHL as one of the airports on the East Coast to receive U.S. citizens wishing to leave Lebanon.

In what was designated as "Operation Evacuee Repatriation," hundreds of employees from the Airport, City, State and Federal agencies and officials and volunteers from the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania worked around the clock since the first chartered flight of evacuees arrived on the evening of July 21st.

The Airport's Terminal A-East baggage claim area was quickly converted into a welcome area for the evacuees, mostly families traveling with young children. Airport staff greeted passengers as they arrived in the federal inspection area, providing information and directional assistance. Red Cross volunteers provided escorts from the International Arrivals Hall to the reception area, where a variety of services and amenities were available to the evacuees, such as food and beverages, medical assistance, travel and lodging accommodations, financial assistance, complimentary telephone and Internet service, specially prepared comfort packs, and toys and games for the children.

Medical professionals met the flights and attended to several passengers experiencing a variety of situations. Some 238 individuals - 146 adults and 92 children - received health assessments; 10 were transported to three local hospitals for treatment. The Red Cross provided nearly 5,500 meals and 17,000 snacks to the evacuees. In addition, PHL supplied the following items:

Sandwiches: 2,605                     Beverages: 1,224
Pizzas: 45                            Snacks: 642
Salads: 450                           Coffee Containers: 88
Fruit: 14 cases

The agencies participating in Operation Evacuee Repatriation were the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania; City of Philadelphia, Managing Director's Office, Office of Emergency Services, Office of Emergency Shelter and Services, Department of Health, Police and Fire Departments; Philadelphia International Airport; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Transportation Security Administration; Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and Administration; Marketplace Redwood L.P.; Parkway Corporation; SEPTA; First Transit.

"This was an extraordinary undertaking, and it required outstanding collaboration among numerous agencies," said Stephanie W. Naidoff, the City's Director of Commerce. "The situation developed quickly and evolved continuously over several days, and the magnificent response of our Airport team as well as all the others who were engaged in this effort will long be remembered by everyone who was a part of it."

"I am particularly proud of our staff at the Airport for their tireless dedication and professionalism throughout this entire effort, and I congratulate the American Red Cross and all of the agencies who performed beyond the call of duty in this effort," said Charles J. Isdell, the City's Director of Aviation.

The Philadelphia Airport System is owned and operated by the City of Philadelphia and is composed of Philadelphia International Airport and Northeast Philadelphia Airport. The Airport System is a self-sustaining entity that operates without the use of local tax dollars. It is one of the largest economic engines in Pennsylvania, generating an estimated $14 billion in spending to the regional economy and employing a workforce of nearly 34,000.

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Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
Mark Pesce, 215-937-6944


Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
Mark Pesce, 215-937-6944