Michiana volunteers prepare to head to Florida for disaster relief

NOW: Michiana volunteers prepare to head to Florida for disaster relief

Local American Red Cross volunteers are preparing to head down to Florida, after hurricane Ian hits the area. While an Indiana native ABC57 spoke with who now lives in Tampa said she got prepared before the storm.

Millions of people, including some Hoosiers braced for hurricane Ian and the life-threatening conditions its set to bring.

“I was really nervous I will say. I’ve never gone through a hurricane. Last year there was a tropical storm, but it really wasn’t that bad,” said Indiana native Ashley Suter, who now lives in Tampa.

Suter who previously worked for ABC57 News moved to northeast Tampa just one year ago and has already prepared for the state’s strongest storm in two decades.

 “We have done everything that we feel like we can do at this point,” said Suter. “We had to get I think 15 sandbags some for the front, some for the back. Have a cooler full of ice just in case the power goes out you have to have that.

Ian has already packed powerful winds, heavy rain, and major flooding to parts of Florida and is expected to have catastrophic impacts and leave thousands without power.

27 states including Indiana have deployed support with Indiana Michigan Power already sending crews down to Florida ahead of the hurricane's landfall Wednesday afternoon, while several Local Red Cross volunteers are on standby to help with clean up and recovery afterwards.

“We’ll get a call 24 hours before we’re supposed to plan the airline trip down there,” said Mary Cook, a Red Cross Volunteer in the Northwest Indiana Region. “They’ll have us go and help out the people that needed to evacuate and go to different shelters.”

With 2.5 million people under an evacuation order there and some with nowhere to go, local Red Cross Volunteers like Cook said she's ready to offer support in any way she can.

“I’m imagining there’s going to be going to be families, and the elderly, and all ages some people with specialized needs, and even their pets possibly are going to be at these particular shelters and we provide comfort, support, and then physically what we can give them while they are there.”

Red Cross told ABC57 they will deploy more local volunteers to Florida as needed. 

They will assist will sheltering needs, mental health services, feeding and recovery efforts.

For more information on how to volunteer or to donate click here.

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