By Marita Salkowski
America Red Cross
The area Chapter of the American Red Cross has been very active in responding to the help people affected in Florida, especially Fort Myers Beach and Fort Myers, regarding the vast damage Hurricane Ian caused along the Gulf Coast last week.
There are currently 39 local staff/volunteers in Florida helping with the Red Cross hurricane response. The number of local Red Cross disaster workers being sent from our area grows each day. The local volunteers are among more than 1,500 Red Crossers from all 50 states. The local chapter has received a spike in volunteer applications within the last week—over 250 new applicants.
Emergency response vehicles from our area left for Florida over the weekend. One left from Dayton, two from Cincinnati. Those vehicles are now in Florida and are being used for mass feeding and distribution of supplies.
Along with the local Red Cross partners, nearly 141,00 meals and snacks have been distributed to people in need.
Many neighborhoods that were home to retirees on fixed incomes and mobile home parks have been left unrecognizable. Conditions remain challenging, which makes it difficult for people to get help. Red Cross volunteers are focused on reaching out to offer relief and support so that no one faces this tough time alone
The relief process is slow and we have a long road ahead.
More than 33,000 people sought refuge in approximately 260 evacuation shelters across Florida to escape Hurricane Ian. The number of people seeking shelter could increase in the coming days as power outages continue and people leave homes that are too damaged to stay in.
The local chapter is sending volunteers to Georgia and the Carolinas as Ian continued its trek up the East Coast.
In addition to Florida, our region has volunteers in Puerto Rico, Alaska, California providing disaster relief and recovery.
The Red Cross will not accept donations of clothing, blankets or household items, as these types of donations divert resources away from our mission and the volunteers are unable to process and distribute them.
Financial donations are the quickest and best way to support people impacted by disaster: your financial donation to the Red Cross helps provide shelter, meals, relief supplies, comfort, and other assistance during disasters.