Donating to Hurricane Ian disaster relief

(ABC 6 News) – As communities in Florida are starting to assess the damage from Hurricane Ian, organizations across the country are mobilizing to help recovery efforts.

ABC 6 News spoke with Daphne Wilson, a former Rochester resident now living in Fort Meyers, about what she is seeing.

“Our windows were bowing in tremendously,” Wilson said. “I was scared.”

Wilson said she sees downed power lines, flooded roads and buildings torn apart everywhere, and she doesn’t have access to main roads or grocery stores.

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Wilson works at Evans Healthcare, a rehabilitation facility in Fort Meyers, and said they likely will not have power back until late Friday night.

“It’s just sad because there’s 106 residents here.”

Now people across the country are stepping up to help people like Wilson through online donations.

Scammers will try and take advantage of the disaster, according to the Rochester Salvation Army. To avoid getting scammed, the Salvation Army is advising people to research organizations online before sending money. The website should detail what the money will be used for.

Rebecca Snapp with the Rochester Salvation Army said there are other benefits to researching relief organizations.

“It’s also a wonderful thing because if they’re doing the research on what kind of work we’re doing, they know what the needs of these communities actually are,” Snapp said. “They know what’s happened to these people. They’re able to advocate for these individuals.”

Local law enforcement also cautions against sending money in the form of gift cards.

In the immediate aftermath of a storm, monetary donations can be more helpful than physical, in-kind donations. Shipping food and clothes will require infrastructure that Florida likely does not have after the storm.

Back in Fort Meyers, Wilson was up all night boarding up windows to try and minimize damage.

“A lot of cuts on my hands for doing it, but these residents mean the world to me,” Wilson said.

She is thankful no residents were hurt — saying property is replaceable. People are not.

The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers who may want to go down to Florida in the coming weeks to assist in recovery in-person. Those interested should reach out to (507) 288-3663. The link for monetary donations can be found here.

Some other trusted organizations to donate to are below.

The American Red Cross

Volunteer Florida

Feeding Florida

Midwest Food Bank