Local volunteers help people recover from Hurricane Ian in Florida

FLORIDA (KVRR) – Five volunteers from eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota are in Florida helping people recuperate after Hurricane Ian.

“This is an absolutely catastrophic event. We at the Red Cross are kind of comparing it to Harvey or Katrina which is just unfathomable,” Eastern North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross Kevin Mehrer said.

Volunteers from our area are making sure people get what they need in the Tampa, Orlando and Key West areas. They are opening and staffing shelters and handing out beds, blankets and food. They’re also driving emergency response vehicles handing out meals, comfort and clean up kits. They’re making sure those who can’t get to a shelter get what they need.

The Red Cross says 80 emergency response vehicles from all over the country gave out 40,000 meals over the weekend.

Most volunteers are in disaster areas for two weeks.

“They would never ever wish for this event to happen, but they want to be there when people need someone to be there for them,” Mehrer said.

Mehrer believes going to areas ripped apart by high winds and rising waters can be difficult.

“I don’t know if you can ever train or prepare someone enough for what they might see, sadly. There’s debris everywhere. There is sometimes still floodwaters. Maybe even still rising. Homes that are completely destroyed. I mean, you cannot imagine the amount of infrastructure that we need to have in place. Supplies, the food, fuel the blankets. Everything you can think of,” Mehrer said.

People do like doing what they can to do good deeds for others. Mehrer says when a volunteer comes back, it makes them want to help more.

“The feeling to help someone in need, you can’t describe it. It’s those warm and fuzzies that you only get from helping out another person,” Mehrer said.

If you want to become a Red Cross volunteer, click here. Once you get a week or two of training, you can help at shelters or transport blood. The Red Cross can quicken the screening process during natural disasters like hurricanes.

Click here to donate to Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

Categories: Community, Local News