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'This is a catastrophic storm': How to help people affected by Hurricane Ian

Even far from the storm, there are many ways to support disaster relief efforts.
Credit: AP
An uprooted tree, toppled by strong winds from the outer bands of Hurricane Ian, rests in a parking lot of a shopping center, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Cooper City, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Ian made landfall Wednesday in southwest Florida, lashing the area with heavy rains and 150-mph winds. It had already torn into Cuba, killing two people and leaving the country without power. 

First responders and relief organizations geared up to respond, preparing supplies and getting people to shelter — about 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate. With forecasts of the storm's path shifting, many prepared for the worst. 

MORE: Hurricane Ian makes landfall in southwest Florida

"We don't know the type of destruction we're going to be dealing with, the magnitude we're going to deal with," Red Cross spokesman Evan Peterson said before the storm made landfall. "We know that this is a catastrophic storm... and that there's going to be a very serious path of destruction." 

For those far from Ian's winds and rain, there are ways to help. This list will be updated. 

Red Cross

The Red Cross said it is prepared to help as many as 60,000 people after moving blood, cots, blankets and relief supplies into the region.

As blood has a relatively short shelf life and takes days to test and process, the organization says supplies must be replenished constantly. Appointments to give blood can be made using redcrossblood.org.

"It is so important for people outside of the storm area to keep those blood appointments, make those appointments, so we can continue making sure that our supplies are open and ready to go," Peterson said. 

RELATED: Space Station captures full scope of Hurricane Ian as storm heads toward Florida

He also encouraged people to donate to the organization's relief efforts. A form on the Red Cross's donation page allows donors to choose what efforts to support, including one for Hurricane Ian relief. People can also donate by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word IAN to 90999.

Florida Disaster Fund

The Florida Disaster Fund, the state's official private fund that supports disaster response activities, was activated Wednesday.

"We greatly appreciate the kindness and generosity of organizations and individuals from across the country looking to support Floridians, thank you," Florida first lady Casey DeSantis said in a statement. 

RELATED: Florida Disaster Fund activated for Hurricane Ian | How to contribute

Donations to the fund can be made through the Volunteer Florida website. 

Credit: AP
An uprooted tree, toppled by strong winds from the outer bands of Hurricane Ian, rests in a parking lot of a shopping center, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Cooper City, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Checks can be made out to “Volunteer Florida Foundation” and include “Florida Disaster Fund” in the memo line. They can be mailed to Volunteer Florida Foundation at 1545 Raymond Diehl Road, Suite 250, Tallahassee, FL 32308.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army says its Florida chapter has one field kitchen and nearly 30 mobile feeding units ready, along with bulk disaster supplies in Tampa. It says people can donate online or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

It says the best way to help is through financial donations, as money can be used more readily in disaster situations than supplies. 

Children's Emergency Fund

The fund, organized by Save the Children, donates child-focused items to kids preparing for and recovering from disasters in the U.S. and around the world. The organization said it has prepared supplies and mobilized an emergency response team to help Florida families.

"Children are always among the most vulnerable when disaster strikes, and our thoughts and hearts go out to kids and families in the pathway of this dangerous storm," said Hurricane Ian response team leader Barbara Ammirati in a statement.

Donations can be made through the organization's website.

Project HOPE

Project HOPE, a nonprofit humanitarian relief organization, says it has a response team in Florida prepared with medicine, water and other supplies. It accepts donations through its website. 

The organization said in a statement that other teams spent the last week responding to Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and remain on the ground there. 

Project HOPE said its teams will work with local partners and health care workers, particularly focusing on the elderly, people with disabilities and other vulnerable communities. 

RELATED: Cuba begins to restore lights after Ian blacks out island


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