Local volunteers helping with disaster relief in Florida

NOW: Local volunteers helping with disaster relief in Florida

Florida communities were left completely devastated after Hurricane Ian ripped through the state last Wednesday, and now with mass clean up and recovery efforts underway some Michiana volunteers are in the disaster zone preparing to help in any way they can.

 “I’m with a group of about a 100, 150,” said Mary Cook, a local American Red Cross Volunteer helping in Florida. “We’re being deployed today to a shelter. So, our role in my group will be to invite and accept and welcome the people that need the shelter.”

Mary Cook is a Michiana Red Cross volunteer ABC57 spoke with last week as Ian grew in strength and again on Monday after the storm.

As the death toll continues to climb, Cook is now in Tampa Florida ready to help hundreds of residents who've also lost their homes and have no place to go.

“They could be there for some time. They’ll have food and a place to rest their head and comfort and outlets if they need to plug in to contact family members,” said Cook.

Cook is joining other local crews deployed to the region like Mishawaka Utilities and Indiana Michigan Power, now on their way back to Michiana after helping restore power to hundreds of thousands of residents left in the dark after the storm.

But with thousands still without power, water, and even shelter, Cook said they’ll work to help folks pick up the pieces of their lives and try to rebuild.

“The demeanor of people is just so somber.” Some of them may be there for a month or two. This year, I'm sure continuously Red Cross will be coming in to help,” said Cook. “With the transition of not having a place to stay. Support, somewhere to eat and literally shelter, to be a liaison between then and their future”

Cook and other volunteers are expected to help thousands who’ve lost their homes or even loved ones.

The organization also said a condolence team and spiritual care will be available for residents and the volunteers.

Cook plans to be in Florida for two weeks and more volunteers will be deployed if needed.

Click here to help with the Red Cross relief efforts.

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