Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers assist in Hurricane Ian recovery

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 9:14 PM CDT
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ORLANDO, FL. (WSMV) - Nearly 30 Tennessee American Red Cross volunteers are stationed in Orlando, Florida, helping Floridians after Hurricane Ian barreled through the state.

“This whole state took a hit,” said Sherri McKinney, the national spokesperson for the American Red Cross.

McKinney and several hundreds of volunteers made their way to the sunshine state days before the storm.

“This was a hundred-mile-wide hurricane. One of the largest to ever hit this state, and it has left a lot of damage, and it will be years before the state is back to where it was pre-Ian,” said McKinney.

The American Red Cross shared with WSMV 4 several images of the aftermath, which included flooding streets, evacuation shelters, and cases of necessary items for the shelter.

“This is a city that’s so much built upon tourism, and they’re so many parts of Orlando right now that are just completely underwater visibly speaking, if you can imagine some of the photos and videos that we saw from Katrina where the home were completely underwater, and all you saw were the roofs, we’re seeing some of that here,” said McKinney.

McKinney shared a story about an elderly Florida man who sought shelter in one of their many evacuation shelters.

“He is a Florida resident, and he has grown up around here, and this is not his first hurricane that he has lived through. However, he’s 84, he’s on oxygen, and he said this one felt different, so he came to the evacuation center,” said McKinney.

The American Red Cross has dispatched more than 700 volunteers throughout Florida. They’re expecting 350 more to arrive by this weekend, but McKinney says they’re still in need of 1300 more.

“We have almost 30 volunteers here from the Tennessee region who arrived to help with sheltering, with transportation, with our emergency resource vehicles to feed folks out into these communities and as well as case workers, mental health workers. So we have it all coming here from Tennessee,” said McKinney.

A massive response for the American Red Cross. They’re even anticipating providing help for South Carolina as the storm heads their way. Right now, she says the Red Cross needs volunteers and monetary and blood donations from the public. They’re encouraging donors to avoid bringing clothes and furniture until they can solidify housing for their clients.

“This isn’t over. It’s not over in Orlando. It’s not over in Tampa. It’s not over in Fort Myers because the waters are still increasing in Florida,” said McKinney.

This Saturday in Nashville and Murfreesboro the Red Cross holding a fast-track disaster employment session which will last four hours.

Once volunteers complete the class, they’ll be ready to deploy.

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