TAMPA, Fla. — As parts of Louisiana and Texas begin to pick up the pieces left on Hurricane Laura’s trail, several local organizations are making preparations to go lend a hand.
The pandemic makes things a bit more difficult, but that isn’t stopping the Red Cross of Central Florida from deploying 20 volunteers to go evaluate the devastation and help those in need.
The Red Cross of Central Florida already has 13 people on the ground there, helping provide shelter for those in need and they’re preparing to send seven more tomorrow.
Michael Hill is one of the volunteers getting ready to head that way. This will be the 11th hurricane he’s volunteered for over the course of his 5 years with the Red Cross, but it marks his first hurricane during the pandemic.
“One of the things we do is we touch people’s lives, not only figuratively, but actually physically. People find comfort in a touch to the arm, sometimes we get hugs, we use eye contact to try and convey how we feel about the situation for them, and we can’t do that now,” said Michael Hill, Damage Assessment Supervisor for the Red Cross of Central Florida.
Despite the changes volunteers are having to make because of the pandemic, Hill says the overall mission of the Red Cross hasn’t changed.
Hill says volunteers are typically in an affected area for two to three weeks, but they’ll have to evaluate the damage before they make that decision.
Another local organization making sure to lend a helping hand is Feeding Tampa Bay.
Not only is Feeding Tampa Bay busy managing local food pantries, but volunteers are hard at work putting pallets of emergency ration meals and water together to send to people in need.
Similar to any other hurricane, Feeding Tampa Bay is joining with its network of over 200 food banks from across the country to help people in Louisiana and Texas.
They’re planning to get a truck on the road as soon as it is safe to do so, and they’re accepting both monetary and food donations to help them get that truck filled. They’re planning to send at least one truck, but they say they’ll send more depending on the number of donations.
“There’s the immediate aftermath, which is when you’d typically need something like an MRE, meals ready to eat, and water, cause you don’t have power. And then after that, you’d need something like snacks and other pop-top items, because you’re in your home and you have some limited power resources. But then also, we have to rebuild pantries, and that takes much longer, and so we’ll be sending relief to any part of the country that has a storm of this nature,” said Thomas Mantz, President and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay.
Feeding Tampa Bay also wants those in the Tampa Bay area to rest assured that they are keeping an eye on the tropics, and if a storm comes our way, they’re ready to help and its network of food banks across the country is ready to pitch in, too.
You can donate directly to Feeding Tampa Bay’s efforts to help those impacted by Hurricane Laura by clicking here.
You can donate to the Red Cross of Central Florida by clicking here.