Local volunteers help with disaster relief in Florida

Florida communities were completely devastated after Hurricane Ian devastated the state last Wednesday, and now, with mass cleanup and recovery efforts underway, some Michiana volunteers are in the disaster area, preparing to help in any way possible.

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

Mary Cook is a Michiana Red Cross volunteer who ABC57 spoke to last week as Ian gained 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 have also lost their homes and have nowhere to go.

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

Cook joins other local crews deployed in the area 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 of people still without power, water and even homeless, Cook said they would work to help people pick up the pieces of their lives and try to rebuild.

“People’s behavior is so dark.” Some of them may be there for a month or two. This year, I’m sure the Red Cross will continually come to help,” Cook said. “With the transition of not having housing. A support, a place to eat and literally a shelter, to be a bond between them and their future”

Cook and other volunteers are expected to help thousands of people who have lost their homes or even loved ones.

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

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

Click here to participate in Red Cross relief efforts.