© 2024 Peoria Public Radio
A joint service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Central Illinois relief organizations mobilize for Hurricane Ian

A damaged home and debris is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee
A damaged home and debris is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, relief organizations across central Illinois band together to help the tens of thousands of Floridians without shelter and food.

Lisa Martin is the executive director of Midwest Food Bank Morton. She said as soon as a disaster happens, volunteers at the food bank's warehouses leap into action to pack “disaster boxes.”

“We immediately put up a disaster line with different food products of shelf stable items,” she said. “Meals and cereal, peanut butter, different items that people can eat from their house.”

The organization had 3,000 of these boxes on the shelf and ready to ship out. Volunteers help assemble the rest as the recovery effort continues. Martin said once volunteers assemble several loads of boxes, disaster relief organizations and first responders will contact the Midwest Food Bank.

“We partner with them to get those down to their area, who is near the site,” she said. “Then they disperse it into the hands of those that are in need.”

Martin said disaster response is just one more part of the mission of fighting food insecurity.

“When an emergency and disaster happens, it fits right into scope with providing food to those who are in need,” she said. “So having that immediate relief fits right into our scope as we try to help those that have a need at a current time.”

The Illinois Red Cross also is mobilizing to care for those impacted by the storm. Communications Manager Brian Williamsen said trained disaster response volunteers are loading up emergency vehicles and making their way south.

“We have services, such as providing food, and that’s where those emergency response vehicles that you're probably familiar with seeing at other disaster sites, they will be out there and our volunteers will be helping with that,” he said. “There are volunteers on our team that are helping with logistical needs, just as you might guess, something like this, there's a lot of behind the scenes type of work that does need to be done there as well.”

Volunteers also will be visiting shelters and talking with displaced families to determine their needs. Williamsen said there are more than 700 trained Red Cross disaster workers already in Florida. They’ll soon be joined by hundreds more from across the United States and from central Illinois.

If you want to get involved in the recovery effort, you can sign up for a time slot to assemble Midwest Food Bank disaster boxes here or donate to the Red Cross here.

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.