Northern Michigan Red Cross Chapter Aims to Help with Hurricane Ian

“I don’t think everybody realizes everything that the Red Cross does in the community.” - Michelle Gallagher

As Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida, tens of thousands have evacuated, but many have stayed behind. At the same time, others are preparing to go to Florida to help with disaster relief efforts.Ian 4pm Wednesday

The wind and the rains are overwhelming, and as Ian bears down on Florida people are gearing up to help with disaster relief efforts. The American Red Cross is answering the call, even 1,500 miles away.

Michelle Gallagher is the new Executive Director of the American Red Cross Northern Michigan Chapter. She says, “We’re getting a lot of calls from people wondering what they can do, how they can help. Which is fantastic. We have, in the state of Michigan we’ve already sent 24, we’ve deployed 24 volunteers.”

Gallagher says one local volunteer is already on the way to Florida. FEMA and the Red Cross have pre-positioned disaster efforts ahead of time. “They are out there in times of disaster, times of need. Helping people, helping the community,” Gallagher says.

Shelters were already set up ahead of the storm. “We had 11,000 people in shelters last night. And it (hadn’t) even hit yet. So that’s just people being prepared,” she says. “We have people on the fringe just waiting to go in.”

Red Cross VolunteersThat includes 300 Red Cross volunteers from all over the country are already in place.  “Human nature, they’re always willing to step up in time of disaster. And we are unfortunately looking at a very big disaster in Florida,” Gallagher says.

Disasters can bring out the best of people’s intentions, wanting to help financially or even step up to volunteer in person. But a volunteer today doesn’t mean a trip to a hurricane zone tomorrow. “There is a process. Anybody can sign up to volunteer but there is a vetting process, there’s training.”  But the Red Cross is willing to train anyone who wants to help in the future.

In the meantime, they’ll take donations to get the help where it’s needed the most. Gallagher says, “It is absolutely all hands on deck. And you know, we’re working with local officials down there and other organizations to make sure everybody has what they’re needing.”

The National Weather Service is calling this a historic event that will be talked about for many years to come.  You can help with disaster relief by donating to the Red Cross, signing up to volunteer for future efforts, or by giving blood.

Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit the Red Cross website here, call 800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation today.

For those interested in helping people specifically affected by this hurricane, they ask that you write ”Hurricane Ian” in the memo line of a check and mail it to the local Red Cross chapter with a completed donation form to the address on the form or to their local Red Cross chapter.

American Red Cross Northern Michigan Chapter
735 S Garfield Ave #B100
Traverse City, MI 49686

Find the donation form by Clicking Here.

The Red Cross is sending hundreds of Type O blood products to Florida to ensure blood remains available for patients in areas expected to be impacted by the storm. In unaffected areas, individuals are urged to make and keep their blood and platelet donation appointments.