TAMPA, Fla. (WJW) – Volunteers with the Northern Ohio American Red Cross have arrived in Florida to help with victims and those displaced by Idalia.
Six volunteers departed Monday for Florida along with an emergency response vehicle to allow them to access areas made inaccessible by the storm.
“The services provided by the Red Cross are vital after a hurricane like this, so it’s important that we are able to reach those people as quickly as possible,” said Christy Peters, regional communications manager for the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross.
Idalia is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 Hurricane with ferocious winds over 111 MPH and a storm surge of 15 feet.
Northeast Ohio Red Cross volunteer Mahogany Coward arrived in Tampa Monday night and says they’ve been working nonstop setting up shelters and preparing for the storm to hit.
“We never know how many clients are going to show up. We just get ready for it to provide the residents with a safe place,” said Coward.
Although residents are encouraged to follow evacuation orders, some were seen boarding up their homes and filling sandbags Tuesday.
To assist first responders, 47 members of the urban rescue and response team Ohio Task Force 1 were activated and departed early Tuesday morning, headed for Florida.
“We’ll be put into a hotel and that will be our staging location and then we’ll probably be there until the storm goes through enough that they can assess for damage,” said Evan Schumann, Ohio TF1 program manager.
After the damage is assessed, he says FEMA will send them to where they are most needed.
Task Force 1 brought a number of highly trained members along with boats, specialized rescue equipment and scent dogs.
“Sometimes cars need to be checked to see if there’s anybody in them because they’re stuck in the water,” said Schumman.
All of the Ohioans are expected to be in Florida for two weeks. The Red Cross volunteers are joining about 400 others from across the country.
“I leave it in God’s hands he sent me to do a good job and that’s just what I’m here to do,” said Coward.
The American Red Cross relies upon volunteers and donations to be able to respond to catastrophic events.