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St. Louis Red Cross staff and volunteers staging in Florida ahead of Hurricane Ian

Several more volunteers are on standby ready to deploy.

ST. LOUIS — Red Cross volunteers from Missouri are now in Florida to help as Hurricane Ian barrels toward the Gulf Coast.

It’s been a busy few weeks for the Red Cross.

“It seems like everything just hit within the last couple of weeks with the typhoon in Alaska, the hurricane in Puerto Rico, and then the wildfires out west,” Sharon Watson with the Red Cross said.

And now Hurricane Ian is expected to hit Florida. 

“The wind is always a difficult aspect of it, water of course. So you have wind and water damage combined. And that, a lot of times, is putting people completely out of their homes, maybe their homes are completely gone,” Watson said.

Five volunteers from Greater St. Louis Red Cross are on the way to lend a helping hand.

“And then we have about 13 other people who are in a standby mode. We expect those numbers to grow throughout the week, especially depending on what the hurricane does, and the type of damage that happens,” Watson said.

St. Louisan Nick O’Hanlon is one of the Red Cross staff members already in place, he’ll be on the support team.

“Supporting our field teams with ensuring that they have the supplies, and the people to be able to meet the needs of the community, whether that be supporting an evac center, feeding routes, or damage assessments, whatever that may be” O’Hanlon said.

Right now they’re focused on shelters and making sure they have supplies before the storm hits as they’re staying in Orlando waiting for the storm to pass.

“We are getting our volunteers in the community, to those evac centers and kind of their place of shelter over the next couple of days while the storm passes through, to make sure that they're safe,” O’Hanlon said.

Then after the storm, they’ll pick up the pieces. 

Two more St. Louis volunteers are scheduled to bring down an emergency response vehicle, but that’s been put on hold until they get more information.

“That vehicle will be there available to provide food and water. And they basically take those supplies out into the community to people who maybe haven't been able to get to a shelter,” Watson said.

The Red Cross is always in need of more volunteers and also donations.

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