Hurricane Ian brings Red Cross volunteers from northeast Ohio to Florida


As Hurricane Ian headed for the Florida coast, two Red Cross volunteers from northeastern Ohio joined hundreds more days before the storm to bring disaster relief disaster.

Medina County’s Monica Bunner and Canton’s Mahogany Cavard were already in Florida on Wednesday and ready to help.

Ian made landfall Wednesday afternoon in southwest Florida, but its effects triggered evacuation orders and warnings across the state.

DIRECT:Hurricane Ian makes landfall on the southwest coast of Florida as a Category 4 major storm

Bunner, 66, is taking refuge in Orlando while serving as a field supervisor for other Red Cross volunteers in the state who will help reunite families and others separated during the hurricane. They will also help people from out of state connect with loved ones in Florida.

“I will work with teams that go to shelters, feeding areas, where people congregate and may miss someone,” Bunner said.

Provide shelter from the storm

Cavard, who said she was on her 21st deployment in the past six years as a disaster relief volunteer, helps staff at an emergency shelter at a school building in Paisley, a small town about 25 miles north of Orlando.

She said volunteers from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other states occupied dozens of rooms at Crowne Plaza Orlando during their deployment. She arrived at her mission on Tuesday evening. By Wednesday evening, about two dozen people, including about six children, had taken refuge at the school.

Mahogany Cavard is a volunteer with the local Red Cross Disaster Response Team.

She said many of them came from mobile homes in the area and had been ordered to evacuate due to the threat of flooding and high winds, even though the community is well inside the land and about 200 miles from where Hurricane Ian made landfall.

She said providing a good meal is one of the most important parts of caring for people seeking shelter. The staff also tries to find things to occupy the children.

“These types of evacuation shelters are meant to allow people to wait out the storm,” she said, adding that everyone hopes their homes will be intact when the storm passes.

“They felt safer coming here because if there had been flooding they might not have been able to get out,” she said.

Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers help provide shelter, relief

The Red Cross has more than 500 trained disaster workers deployed to Florida to support shelter and relief efforts for Hurricane Ian, said Jim McIntyre, spokesman for the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross, which includes Akron and surrounding areas. At least six other northeast Ohio residents are ready to travel to Florida if needed, he said.

Bunner said this is likely the 20th time she’s deployed with the Red Cross, including helping with other hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, fires and other issues. The normal deployment is at least two weeks and a typical daily shift lasts 12 hours, she said.

Bunner said she makes sure her cell phone backup batteries and other technology are charged. She also stocked up on food and water.

“My biggest concern is not so much the wind or the storm as the power outages,” she said.

Bunner said she had undergone Red Cross training on a number of different needs, this time focusing on reunification efforts.

“It basically means connecting families, friends, loved ones,” she said. Among the issues they need to be concerned about are people’s health and mobility needs, she said.

In many cases, Red Cross volunteers do not need to physically go out to look for someone, she said. If a situation is serious or potentially serious, volunteers will help search for people, she said.

Reunification includes working with law enforcement, ensuring minors aren’t left unattended, and monitoring human trafficking and homelessness, Bunner said.

“We get all kinds of people,” she said.

The Red Cross has transported trucks full of beds, blankets and comfort kits, as well as tens of thousands of relief supplies to the region to prepare to help up to 60,000 people, the Cross said. Red in a press release.

Dozens of emergency response vehicles were prepositioned around Florida and several hundred blood products were sent to Florida ahead of the storm to ensure patients continue to have access to a readily available blood supply, a said the Red Cross.

How to Help Relieve Hurricane Ian

Bunner and McIntyre said the Red Cross can use monetary donations to help the organization provide aid. The organization does not accept donations of clothing or food.

People can donate money to Red Cross Disaster Relief. To donate, go to, call 800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10.


Comments are closed.