Chicago volunteers gather, ready to help w/hurricane


CHICAGO — While millions of people have evacuated from Florida to escape Hurricane Ian, volunteers from Chicago and surrounding areas are headed toward the storm to help.

In some cases, medical professionals have already been deployed to Florida.

David Hoke, the CEO of Med-Call Healthcare — a healthcare staffing firm — said dozens of Med-Call nurses, mostly from the state of Florida, are volunteering their expertise while staying at a shelter in Lee County, Florida to provide medical care and a range of other services.

“They’re doing everything,” Hoke said. “They’re serving food. They’re cleaning up. They’re potentially moving garbage and doing just about anything asked of them.”

Elsewhere, hundreds of Red Cross volunteers are among those on standby, just waiting for the all-clear to head south and provide assistance.

“You know this is a time when they need us most,” said Yasmin Clinton, a Red Cross volunteer. “I get to interact with the clients a lot, which for me, is very gratifying because I get to help them on their next step.”

While Clinton told WGN News she received a call that her and other Red Cross volunteers are heading South Thursday morning, she hopes others will consider lending a hand too.

“With this hurricane hitting this area … it’s going to be a very impactful one,” Clinton said. “If you’re able to help, please stand up and help wherever you can.”

The latest on Hurricane Ian:

Hurricane Ian made landfall near Fort Myers, Florida around 3 p.m. as a category 4 hurricane, slamming the Southwest Floridian coastline with winds exceeding 150 miles-per-hour at times.

Damage so far includes down powerlines, uprooted trees, and severe flooding of neighborhoods as the storm surge makes its way inland toward Naples.

“Life safety operations will commence once it’s safe to be able to identify people who may be in harms way,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis said Florida has 30,000 linemen and 7,000 National Guard troops standing by, ready to go once danger from the storm subsides.

North of Fort Myers, weather experts said Tampa was spared from a direct hit by the storm, but in a rare phenomenon, winds pushed water out of Tampa Bay. Officials there are still warning that they could see as much as 20 inches of rain.

If you or someone you know would like to make a donation toward helping victims of Hurricane Ian, or find a way to volunteer, click here to visit the Red Cross online.

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