Days before Hurricane Ian hit Florida, The Salvation Army prepared resources and personnel to meet the immediate needs of survivors and first responders ahead of the catastrophic storm. Ian came right after Hurricane Fiona ravaged Puerto Rico, where The Salvation Army is still serving survivors and first responders.
Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm the night of Wednesday, Sept. 28, on the west coast of Florida. This storm marks the first direct impact of a hurricane in the area since 1921. When the entire state of Florida was declared under a state of emergency and about one million residents began to evacuate ahead of landfall, The Salvation Army positioned resources and personnel to respond to widespread needs as efficiently as possible.
The Salvation Army had dozens of mobile feed units from across its Southern Territory stationed in Florida and ready to serve immediately following the storm. Each of these units can feed up to 1,500 people a day. The Salvation Army began serving the evacuees that have stationed themselves in shelters, which is predicted to be one million people prior to the storms impact. Two major warehouses in Tampa and McDonough were prepared with food, water, cleaning supplies and hygiene products.
Once the storm hit Florida, it was a waiting game until its passing. With waves as high as 16 ft., heavy storm surges that lead to massive flooding, 2.6 million power outages, tornado threats and structural damage, the need is everywhere across Florida. “It felt like a 7-hour tornado,” says one Salvation Army Emergency Disaster personnel.
With roughly 11 million residents of Florida affected, The Salvation Army is prepared to serve in Florida for weeks and possibly months to come. Our Emergency Disaster Team is stationed in Florida currently in Port Charlotte and Fort Myers with more than half a dozen more disaster teams readied to deploy and an IMAT team on stand-by.
The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi (ALM), will continue to serve and help where there is need. Currently, ALM has four teams on the ground in Florida and has sent a bunkhouse and Vehicle Response Unit to be used. The greatest need the division is requesting are Infant Kits and Cleaning Kits. To support the division’s efforts during this devasting time for Florida or to learn more about how to donate to disaster relief, visit: www.HelpSalvationArmy.org or text: 1-800-725-2769.
One-hundred percent of designated disaster donations go to direct services for survivors and first responders.