From the Cherokee Tribune:

Cherokee's own work to assist

Katrina victims pick up the pieces

Thursday, September 22, 2005 4:02 AM EDT
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By Sarah E. Alexander

Cherokee Tribune Staff Writer

Mike Patellis of Woodstock used his helicopter for more than sightseeing

  tours this month. He used it to save lives.

Patellis is one of many Cherokee County residents who have traveled to
the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina to help its victims.

Patellis, who owns Alpha Helicopters Inc. and Alpha Towing Inc. in
Marietta, has traveled twice to affected areas. On his first trip, he rescued
about 30 people from Tulane University Medical Center in downtown
New Orleans and people stranded on bridges and roads.

"I flew constantly for 10 hours. All I did was stop for fuel," he said.
"I was tired. I was hungry. I needed a good shave. I needed a shower."

Patellis said he was in one of the helicopters that snipers shot at
while he was trying to rescue stranded residents.

"I've never had someone shoot at me when I was in my helicopter,"
he said, adding someone also tried to commandeer his helicopter.
"It was very scary."

Patellis, who also distributed supplies on the trips, said it was rewarding
to help the residents.

"I just decided to use my helicopter and help as many people as I could,"
he said, adding people he helped have called to thank him. "Everyone
that I met was very appreciative of me helping them."

Patellis, who said he plans to go back if the area is hit by another
hurricane, said he gave water to one man whose wife had suffered a

"I landed because I saw him out in a field and thought that he needed
help," he said. "He said, 'You must be an angel.'"