Wisconsin Red Cross volunteers mobilizing for Hurricane Ian

Three Emergency Response Vehicles (ERV) from Wisconsin are being driven to Florida by Red Cross volunteers.
Wisconsin Red Cross volunteers mobilizing for Hurricane Ian
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 11:49 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2022 at 12:10 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Early Wednesday morning, Hurricane Ian was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane. Five American Red Cross volunteers based in Wisconsin are already there and ready to assist, while six more are planning to hit the road in the coming days.

Red Cross Regional Communications Manager Laura McGuire provided those numbers, adding that the number of volunteers on standby and who would also be ready to go rose to 13 as of late Tuesday morning.

The six people set to go over the next couple days will make the trip in three Emergency Response Vehicles, one of which is based in Madison, that the agency is sending to help with hurricane relief efforts. The ERVs are designed to deliver food, water, and emergency supplies to people affected by the storm.

The teams are deployed in operations of two people. Phillip Maier of Oregon has been volunteering with the Southwest Chapter for four years now, most recently with Disaster Services.

“I’ve been down to Louisiana, down to Texas and not too long ago they put out an alert for people they needed in Alaska,” Maier said. “Its’ nice being able to give back to the community at large.”

Those three ERV’s will be coming from Madison, Green Bay and Milwaukee. The Madison-based ERV was set to depart early Wednesday morning but due to last minute changes in logistics will now leave Thursday with an arrival time of Friday evening.

Officials have already ordered 2.5 million people to evacuate the west-central part of the state, i.e., around the Tampa Bay area, before the storm makes landfall.

Hurricane Ian is expected to strike the Florida coast as a major hurricane.
Hurricane Ian is expected to strike the Florida coast as a major hurricane.(Source: National Hurricane Center)

The hurricane tore through western Cuba on Tuesday, with sustained wind speeds of 125 mph and storm surges as much as 14 feet high, the National Weather Service stated.

The Associated Press reports the storm is expected to strengthen even more over warm Gulf of Mexico waters, reaching top winds of 140 mph (225 kmh) as it approaches Florida’s southwest coast.

One employee and one volunteer from the Red Cross have been deployed to Puerto Rico to assist with recovery efforts after Hurricane Fiona. Responders in Puerto Rico are providing health services in emergency shelters, American Red Cross said.

Another Wisconsin volunteer went to Alaska to respond to Typhoon Merbok. American Red Cross says that their volunteers are assisting remote village prepare for the upcoming winter while providing relief from the storm. Shelters are also being offered to Alaska residents.

Two other Wisconsin-based Red Cross workers have also gone to the west coast to help with wildfire efforts there.

Maier encourages interested in volunteer work to reach out to the Red Cross, “We have a fantastic training program here at the American Red Cross in Madison and nationally that gives you resources, and you know that you’re not alone wherever you go.”

How can I help?

The Red Cross says they are always in need of volunteers, blood donations and monetary donations to continue providing relief efforts throughout the country. To find out how you can help call 1-800-REDCROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

To get involved, go to redcross.org/volunteertoday and sign up today.

Three ERV's driven by volunteers with the American Red Cross are heading down to Florida

The Associated Press contributed to this report.