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Central Coast organizations helping Florida residents as they deal with Hurricane Ian

Ever since Ian was spotted, Direct Relief in Santa Barbara has been working around the clock to get supplies to the community health centers in Florida.
Posted at 6:23 PM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-28 21:54:06-04

As images of Hurricane Ian storming through the west coast of Florida shock the nation, people on the Central Coast are watching closely.

“South Florida is a place where my wife and I visit in the last several years on our way to the Caribbean. I have friends, a couple of my ex-football players still live there,” said Grover Beach resident Mark Gritton.

They are keeping an eye on the cyclone’s path as it threatens other states.

“My son lives in South Carolina, so he’s looking at the tracking where that storm is going," said Al Brandli, who was visiting Pismo Beach.

Cole Barrington is a member of Exhumed Band, and he is preparing to go on tour in Florida. He is hoping Florida still stands strong after Hurricane Ian.

“I hope that late November it’s calmed down by then. We will be driving through Florida, Tampa and West Palm Beach,” Barrington said.

Ever since Ian was identified, Direct Relief in Santa Barbara has been working around the clock to get supplies to the community health centers in Florida.

“Pre-storm we had what we call 'hurricane preparedness packages' — basically emergency pharmacies, fully equipped pharmacies. We have 12 of those prepositioned in South Florida. We actually sent three more today,” explained Leighton Jones, Direct Relief’s Emergency Response Director.

It's about having everything in stock every step of the way.

“Florida has an elderly population. There’s a lot of people in long-term care facilities, people who rely on home oxygen equipment, who need power,” Jones said.

The Red Cross is also supporting folks in Florida.

“Ten of our Central California search crews flew out over the weekend to arrive before Hurricane Ian hit, and they joined 500 volunteers from across the country,” said Taylor Poisall, Red Cross Communications Director.

At least five of those volunteers are from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

“They are all trained in sheltering and that is going to be the main focus for the next several weeks or even months taking care of people’s immediate needs, so shelter, food, water and emotional support,” Poisall said.

As the storm brings chaos, the community stays together.

“We’re sending an avalanche of strength and prayers to you during these difficult times,” Gritton said.

If you want to make a donation to these relief efforts you can visit Direct Relief’s website, click here.

“We are watching places such as Orlando even Jacksonville and even into Georgia and the Carolinas,” Jones added.

For details on how to help the Red Cross, click here.

Another option for those interested in supporting the Red Cross is to get trained as a volunteer.

If assisting during a disaster, volunteers are asked to stay on the scene for two weeks, but there are also options for those looking to help locally without that time commitment.

Donations are also still being accepted for those impacted by Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico.