Hurricane Ian Devastates Florida: How To Help Those Impacted by the Storm

Hurricane Ian made landfall along the southwestern coast of Florida as a Category 4 hurricane on Sept. 28. The 500-mile-wide storm unleashed deadly storm surge and catastrophic flooding, with the most significant damage sustained in southwest and central Florida.

On Sept. 29, the storm has been downgraded to a Tropical Storm, and continues to bring rain, high winds, and unprecedented flooding to parts of Florida. Ian is expected to strengthen back into a hurricane ahead of a second projected landfall in South Carolina on Friday, Sept. 30.

Photos and accounts of the destruction in southwest and central Florida, as well as ongoing flood updates, continue to emerge, and rescue operations are still underway in affected areas. More than 2.6 million customers are without power.

As we begin to look to the long recovery ahead and to help those affected by this horrific disaster, Better has compiled a list of ways to send direct help to those in crisis. Read on for the most direct and effective ways to support those in need right now.

Donations and Volunteering

Florida Disaster Fund via Volunteer Florida

On September 28, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the activation of the Florida Disaster Fund, supported by Volunteer Florida. “When a disaster strikes our great state, Volunteer Florida is committed to help provide relief where it is most needed,” said CEO Josie Tamayo. “We channel every available dollar to work towards rebuilding and recovery efforts in our affected communities.” More information about the certified organization and their efforts can be found on the Volunteer Florida website.

The American Red Cross

Always on the front lines when disaster strikes, The American Red Cross has more than 500 volunteers ready to bring aid to Florida. For donors who specifically want to donate to victims of Hurricane Ian, donate here. Checks can be made out to The Red Cross with “Hurricane Ian” in the memo line. Checks can then be mailed to your local Red Cross chapter with a completed donation form. The Red Cross is also asking for blood donations, if possible, “especially Type O which is routinely in short supply,” according to Fox 6 Milwaukee. More information on The Red Cross’ efforts can be found on their website.

The Salvation Army

“From Florida to Puerto Rico, The Salvation Army is there to provide food, drinks, shelter, emotional and spiritual care and other emergency services to hurricane survivors and rescue workers,” states the Salvation Army website. Donations help bring life-saving support to those in devastated areas. Donations can also be made over the phone by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769). More resources can be found on The Salvation Army website.

World Central Kitchen

In times of crisis, it can be yet another obstacle for folks to determine where their next meal comes from. To directly fight this, the World Central Kitchen feeds hot meals and sandwiches to thousands in disaster-stricken areas — and as of late, Florida. This simple example of disaster aid is a cornerstone to recovery — consider donating to their vital efforts today. More information on donating and organization specifics can be found on the WCK website.

Samaritan’s Purse

The Samaritan’s Purse mission is simple, to offer “international relief” when necessary. Currently, the organization is collecting donations to fund their next steps: “Staff members will be on the ground assessing the hardest hit areas once it is safe to do so. Volunteer teams will be needed to start work in the next few days. The need is urgent,” according to their website. To be a part of their U.S. Disaster Relief solutions, consider donating to their cause.

United Way of Florida

This Florida chapter of United Way has launched a Disaster Recovery Fund for all those affected throughout the state. Donations made will go directly to “the needs created by Hurricane Ian,” according to their website. Donations can also be made to specific communities and counties or go toward the general fund. More information on the United Way website.

Feeding America

Through its network of partners, Feeding America is quick to respond to need following disaster. The same can be said now, as they have begun collecting funds to bring support, food and supplies to Florida. Consider donating to this organization that solves a direct need. Additional details can be found on the Feeding America website.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

With a network of “500 feeding partners,” Second Harvest is able to do a lot of good in a lot of places. That includes Florida, where they are working with county and state disaster management teams to do the most they can — but they can’t do it alone. Consider donating to their efforts today, visit the Second Harvest website to see specifically how you might help their mission.

Volunteer Florida

As mentioned previously, Volunteer Florida is at the forefront of their state’s disaster response. Aside from monetary support, their organization also needs boots on the ground. If you are able to offer physical support via volunteer work, consider starting here — the organization is also home to volunteer opportunities with other organizations, like The Red Cross. More information on requirements and logistics can be found on the Volunteer Florida website, where vital resources are also available.

For more information about supporting the victims of Hurricane Fiona, read our previous How To Help article.

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