PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — In Central Illinois and surrounding communities, organizations and volunteers are stepping up to help those impacted by Hurricane Ian.
For 12 years, Dean Otta has volunteered with the American Red Cross and assisted with other disaster relief efforts. His next mission will entail helping those impacted by Hurricane Ian.
“New people have moved to Florida that have never been through a hurricane before, so we’ve got to help a lot of people there,” Otta said.
Otta is one of the hundreds of volunteers expected to visit southwestern Florida over the coming days to provide relief supplies and hope to residents.
“Stop and talk to them, listen to their experience, get to know what they need from the American Red Cross,” Otta said.
ImpactLife, which has a blood donation center in Peoria, is also pitching in by donating shipments of Type O blood cells to the Florida coast.
“There could be damage from storms, there could be evacuations, or sheltering in place, power outages, all of which will impact people’s ability to get out and give blood,” said Kirby Winn, ImpactLife public relations manager.
Although some are facing hurdles to give blood, the need doesn’t stop, which makes the shipments crucial.
“Patient care and the use of blood at hospitals continue almost no matter what,” Winn said.
Midwest Food Bank is standing by with around 3,000 boxes of food for Floridians stuck at home.
“It will be shelf stable food where they’re able to have some ready-made meals, whether that’s cereal and pasta,” said Lisa Martin, executive director of Midwest Food Bank-Morton Division.
Martin said helping those affected by the hurricane fits into what the Midwest Food Bank is all about.
“It’s our mission to help those that are in need of food, and so this is a dire scenario where that is an emergency,” Martin said.
Visit redcross.org or call 800-RED-CROSS to make a donation.
Midwest Food Bank will have volunteer opportunities to build food boxes on Monday and Tuesday. The organization is also accepting monetary donations to help with food item purchases.
HURRICANE IAN IMPACT ON LOCAL FLIGHTS
Two Allegiant flights from Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington to Orlando-Sanford and St. Petersburg have been canceled.
Allegiant flights from Peoria to St. Petersburg, Orlando-Sanford, and Punta Gorda have also been canceled this week.
Leaders with Peoria International airport said it’s possible flights to those destinations could be impacted for a longer period of time.
“Damaging storms like a hurricane could cause damage to the airport, and so if that happens the airports will have to clean up and repair and then get back to where they can meet FAA standards again,” said Gene Olson, director of airports at Peoria International Airport.
If you aren’t flying Allegiant you’re encouraged to check with your airline regarding flights to the impacted area.