PORTLAND, Oregon — Hurricane Ian, a powerful category four hurricane, wreaked havoc in southwest Florida on Wednesday. With 150-mile-per-hour winds and historic storm surges, has taken lives and left tens of thousands homeless.
Various organizations as well as first responders are on the ground supporting relief and recovery efforts — including from the American Red Cross Cascades Region.
“Our volunteers are definitely busy, Red Cross has over 700 volunteers there right now responding, nearly 40 just from the Cascades Region,” said Dawn Johnson the interim communication director.
Johnson shared images with KGW of Oregonians on the ground in Florida; setting up shelter, moving food and supplies and helping families — kittens included.
“We got some pictures back from one of the shelters in Florida, where they had brought in a little of kittens, a family did. And volunteers had set up a little pet area in one of the shelters there to care for those kittens," said Johnson.
Help in the wake of Hurricane Ian, the Red Cross had 120,000 people in Florida shelters Thursday night. And the organization is already stretched thin by other natural disasters.
“So it's really a good time right now to reach out to the public and try to build up our ranks and our disaster volunteer force,” said Johnson.
To that end the Red Cross Cascades Region is holding several volunteer deployment information sessions.
They're designed to be a first step for new would-be volunteers to get to know the process.
It doesn't guarantee being selected as a volunteer to Florida right away. But with early damage estimates already over 100 billion dollars, the recovery from Ian will take a long time.
Volunteering if not for everybody, but maybe donating blood is.
“We have actually just here in Oregon sent 200 to 300 units to Florida of blood, so we do need people to come in and donate blood as well,” said Johnson.
Another way to help the American Red Cross is to make a financial contribution. Donations can be designate for the Hurricane Ian relief efforts.
Oregonians can also text Ian to 1-800-REDCROSS to donate $10.