Five weeks after Hurricane Ian made landfall, American Red Cross relief efforts in Florida are ongoing. To date, the Red Cross and partners have provided more than 45,000 overnight stays for at least 6,800 residents in more than 70 emergency shelters. This relief also includes the critical distribution of more than 1.6 million meals and 400,000 relief items. More than 2,800 trained Red Cross disaster workers have assisted in these efforts, including over 60 from the Eastern New York region.
Anna Maison, Disaster Program Manager in the Mohawk Valley, prepositioned in Florida before Ian made landfall. She got the call asking to deploy around 7:30 on a Sunday evening and was out the door just 24 hours later, arriving in Orlando, Florida by midnight. This was her second national deployment. Her first was working as a Shelter Service Associate in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida in August 2021.
During her two weeks in Florida, Anna worked as an Information and Planning Generalist Supervisor. She helped manage the Incident Action Plan (IAP). The IAP helps ensure everybody on the workforce is on the same page. This allowed the Disaster Relief Team to be able to provide critical information to the public on where to access shelter, food, distribution of emergency supplies, and gas.
This also involved the logistical coordination of creating zones where distribution of emergency supplies, shelter, and feeding teams were most critically needed across the state of Florida. Anna’s team used the locations from incoming phone calls across the state to plot where there was critical need and what was needed. Zones were then created where the Red Cross sent shelter teams, feeding teams, and distributed emergency supplies.
The Red Cross is a non-profit organization that depends on volunteers to deliver our mission, with 90 percentof the workforce being made up by volunteers. “I genuinely believe in this organization and its mission,” Anna said. “Events like this show us how important it is to volunteer for an organization like the Red Cross. Hurricane Ian disaster relief efforts will be ongoing for months.”
Outside of the vital sheltering and feeding support the Red Cross provides, Anna adds that your presence as a volunteer genuinely makes a difference to impacted residents.
“You form a community with the clients you are working with. They trust you; you trust them. You really create these lasting bonds with the clients and with other Red Cross volunteers,” she said. “It is humbling how that can come out of what is a disastrous situation.”
YOU CAN HELP people affected by disasters like storms and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Written by Communications Volunteer Camilla Hren