Hurricane Ian: How To Help Those Impacted By The Storm

Here is a list of vetted organizations that could really use our help to serve those in need.

Hurricane Ian Slams Into West Coast Of Florida
Photo: Joe Raedle / Staff/Getty

Hurricane Ian made initial landfall on Cayo Costa island off the coast of Fort Myers, Florida, Wednesday afternoon as a category 4 storm. This "ferocious storm," as ABC News' Ginger Zee called it, has caused catastrophic damage both from winds upwards of 150MPH and the flooding from storm surges throughout the state of Florida from the east coast, straight across to the greater Orlando area. And as of Thursday morning, Ian was still on the move. The storm sped up and changed directions more quickly than was originally expected so many people were caught off guard. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell told Good Morning America, "This has been just a catastrophic storm and it's left significant damage in its path."

Many Florida residents are now displaced and will need the help of their neighbors for some time to come. If you are looking for ways to help, here are just a few of the groups already active on the ground. These nonprofit organizations rely on the donations of others to be able to continue their vital work.

American Red Cross

The Red Cross has hundreds of workers across the state setting up shelters, and providing food and water for those in immediate need. They help in the days following the storm making sure displaced people have their immediate needs met, including medications they may have left behind. They say the best way to help their efforts is by making a donation here.

Mercy Chefs

Chef Gary LeBlanc and his wife Ann, along with their army of chefs and volunteers have been serving those in need after natural disasters since 2006. Their mission is to "serve body and soul," one hot meal at a time. Chef LeBlanc had his teams in place ahead of the storm and said in an instagram post, "I believe this may be Mercy Chefs largest deployment ever." As of Thursday morning they have set out to serve those in Lee County. You can help their efforts here.

Operation BBQ Relief

CEO Stan Hays and his group of championship winning BBQ pitmasters always answer the call of duty after natural disasters. They set up shop wherever they are needed to help feed first responders and emergency personnel as well as provide meals to shelters. They believe in "healing power of BBQ." As of Thursday morning, OBR has mobilized and moved into Floriday to "serve more than 60,000 meals each day," as their Instagram post reads. They go on to say, "This is a herculean task. We bring a footprint of up to 2 football fields.Fuel and food costs are up. This will be our most costly deployment." You can help their efforts by volunteering or donating here.

Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon is a veteran-led humanitarian aid organization. They show up to help communities before, during, and after disaster strikes. As noted in an Instagram post, Team Rubicon had a team in place in Florida ahead of Hurricane Ian's arrival.

"Team Rubicon Greyshirts are busy in Florida, where we are pre-staging two route clearances teams ahead of the impact of Hurricane Ian. These route clearance teams will prioritize clearing fallen trees and debris from roadways to help residents regain access to homes and neighborhoods. By preparing now, we ensure a more rapid response to the likely widespread affected areas. "

You can help their efforts by donating here.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army arrives in the wake of disasters to provide food, shelter, and emotional and spiritual guidance as well as other emergency services. You can contribute to their efforts by donating here.

Southern Smoke

The Southern Smoke Foundation is dedicated to helping those in the food and beverage community. They established an emergency relief fund to help workers in this industry specifically when they suddenly cannot work for several reasons, but one of which is natural disaster. These funds are given to those in need "to pay for essentials like groceries, clothing, and medications, and have covered the cost of rent, natural disaster damages, lost wages, and more." They have already opened up for applications for those in need from Hurricane Ian here. And if you would like to donate to their efforts to help those in the F&B industry, you can do so here.

World Central Kitchen

World Central Kitchen is a global humanitarian relief organization led by Chef Jose Andres. The folks at WCK had several teams set up across Florida ahead of the storm and are already serving hot meals to those in need. To contribute to their efforts you can donate here.

This is a working list and more organizations will be added as more resources become available in the region. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Florida.

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