FORT MYERS, FL (3TV/CBS 5) – Southwest Florida will never be the same after Hurricane Ian destroyed homes and businesses last week. Now volunteers from across the country are in the Sunshine State trying to bring relief to people who have lost everything.
Nearly twenty Arizona Red Cross volunteers are on the ground in Florida this week. Randy Ogden is a retired firefighter from Tucson and signed up as a volunteer earlier this year. Since then, he’s helped those affected by the California wildfires, but he’s never seen damage like this week in the Fort Myers area. “It’s much larger and more devastating. Power lines are down and people have generators trying to cool off. I’ve seen many forest fires, but I’ve never seen a hurricane before. It’s a whole different animal. »
Ogden and his team survey the damage and decide if the homes are safe enough for people to return. He is expected to be there for the next ten days, but with all the damage he expects to stay longer. “It’s such a big devastated area and there’s so much to do,” Ogden says. “We all see the pain. What we see does not compare to what they experience. Put it into perspective. We are there to help them, but they live it.
Red Cross spokeswoman Sherri McKinney is also in Florida. She says the devastation is unbelievable. “We’ve seen things we’ve heard over and over again how it looks like a war zone like an atomic bomb has gone off. This is not an exaggeration. It really is as bad as you see and more. It’s hard to convey through a photo how serious this is. McKinney says the recovery from Hurricane Ian could be one of the longest recovery efforts in Red Cross history.
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