Chicago-area volunteers ready to deploy for Hurricane Ian cleanup; Red Cross gives update

Friday, September 30, 2022
Volunteers ready to deploy for Hurricane Ian relief
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Volunteers across the Chicago area are ready to head down to Florida to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Volunteers across the Chicago area are ready to head down to Florida to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

The local Red Cross said it's been preparing to send relief to Florida for days, and plans to be involved in the effort for months.

Red Cross workers have mobilized, and trucks full of supplies are on the way.

In Illinois, 10 volunteers have already left for Florida.

"We know that this is going to be months of a response for the American Red Cross, and people are going to need our help throughout the holidays, so we expect hundreds of volunteers from the Illinois region to continue to head towards the east coast," said Celena Roldan, CEO of Red Cross of Illinois.

Some Red Cross volunteers from the Chicago area will be stationed at shelters.

"I'm deployed as a shelter worker, so I'm able to make connections with clients. So it's really rewarding to see them start having hope and knowing that there's a next step for them to leave the shelter and get back to normalcy in their life," said Des Plaines resident Yasmin Clinton, a Red Cross volunteer. "You just pack for everything that you hope you might need for yourself. I also pack a first aid kit, which I tend to leave at the shelter."

SEE MORE: People trapped, 2M without power after Hurricane Ian swamps SW Florida

PuroClean loaded trucks up with supplies, including giant fans and blowers designed to dry and sanitize flooded buildings. Their disaster response teams are ready to deploy to where they're needed.

"Dry everything out. Keep mold from growing. Get everything back to the way it was before the storm," said Stevie Martinez of PuroClean.

A remodeled fire house on the Near West Side is where Team Rubicon is deploying volunteers they call grey shirts who will help with much of the hard work on the ground in Florida. One of their first objectives is to clear roadways and transportation routes from downed trees and other debris. Most of the volunteers are military veterans who are well prepared for disaster response.

"Once they get there, they're ready to do the work. Replace shingles, ready to remove debris, do all the things to make sure the communities are back how they were before this happened" said Sean Walker of Team Rubicon.

Luis Martinez lives in Orlando now. The former Chicagoan shared video from his neighborhood.

One of his neighbors was using a kayak to get around, and the flooding was catastrophic.

"There's no way to get around here except with a kayak, right now. The water is really bad. I'm telling you -- never seen anything like this," he said.

Martinez said his family is safe and so is his home.

He's thankful they have water and electricity.

Meanwhile, the rain and some heavy wind gusts have kept coming.

"Biggest concern right now is the recovery from all of this. It's going to be, you know, not going to be days. It's going to be more like months to recover from all this flood," Martinez said.

The Red Cross said the best way to help people impacted by Ian is through financial donations.

Those donations help the Red Cross provide cots and blankets and other basic necessities to hurricane victims.

They hope to provide aid to more than 60,000 people.

For more information or to donate to the Red Cross, visit