“The devastation is just really a pit in your stomach,” Southern California American Red Cross Communications Volunteer, Mimi Teller, said. “What people are gonna have to dig out from and it’s not just their homes, it’s businesses, too. People have to realize that.”
Mimi Teller has been a volunteer with the American Red Cross for seven years.
She’s been deployed several times for hurricanes, wildfires and everything in between.
To her, seeing what’s left after Hurricane Ian tore through Florida takes her right back to four years ago during another devastating storm: Hurricane Michael.
“I really can understand and visualize what’s going on right now,” Teller shared. “From what I’ve seen, it looks like all the horrible hurricanes. Along the coastline, you have the storm surge so houses are just jumbled, boats are jumbled, everything’s on top of each other. There’s wood shards everywhere and people’s belongings everywhere.”
For Teller, you can rebuild, but it’s the stories that come out of these tragedies that hit the hardest.
“You see people returning to their homes and they’re picking through what’s left of their lives,” she continued. “You talk to them about their stories and you hope that they all got out.”
But the Red Cross is here to help.
“We provided immediate assistance which was shelter, food, showers, we had power from what I heard, for the most part. Now as people return to their homes, we are able to scale down somewhat of the operation, but we’re still gonna have a large population in our shelters for a while to come,” Teller said.
But you don’t need to be a volunteer with the Red Cross to still make an impact.
“As the days and the weeks progress, we identify what people’s needs are and that’s where donations come in big time,” Teller explained. “What’s so helpful about cash donations is we can disperse those immediately. That way people are empowered to make their own decisions on how they recover and what they need to recover.”
But, there’s more than one option for people who want to help.
“If you don’t have money and you don’t have the time to donate, take 45 minutes and donate blood. That would be huge,” she said.
Making a difference for those who lost everything.
“The generosity of the donors make this possible,” Teller shared. “We couldn’t do any of this if we didn’t have the donation support.”
To donate, text the word “IAN” to 90999 or call 1-800-RED CROSS.
For more information, click here.