CLEVELAND (WJW) – Hurricane Ian, making landfall in Cuba on Tuesday, is now barreling toward Florida as Northeast Ohio stands ready to respond to disaster relief efforts.

“The Red Cross is going to deploy hundreds of disaster workers including many volunteers from Northern Ohio to respond to Hurricane Ian,” said Jim McIntyre, Regional Communications Director for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “We have one volunteer from Canton who has been pre-deployed and is currently helping to set up a shelter.”

The Category 3 hurricane could bring a life-threatening storm surge with winds of 120 miles per hour.

McIntyre said additional trained volunteers are on standby for deployment for up to two weeks in order to staff shelters in areas hardest hit and help provide “mass care” in neighborhoods where people are unable to get out of their homes.

A crew of up to 20 people from Mr. Falls Tree Experts will make the journey to Tampa Wednesday and could stay for two weeks to three months, according to business owner Eric Eckard who began responding to hurricane disaster relief efforts across the country in 1996.

“Helping to clear roadways and open up access for first responders to get in so it’s really kind of hit or miss depending on what the storm dictates. Every storm is different,” said Eckard.

The goal for both organizations is to help people survive the hurricane that continues to show signs of increased strength as it advances to Florida.

“I never pray or wish for these storms to come to people because it’s devastating to them. As a homeowner, just thinking of the trees, the damage, the things happening to your property, all the stuff they have to go through. It’s really rough,” said Eckard.   

The Red Cross is in need of additional volunteers. Learn how to help here.