SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -The Suncoast was spared from Hurricane Sally, so now local organizations are coming together to provide relief to those impacted by the storm.
Sarasota County’s Salvation Army Major, Chuck Whiten, said Thursday twelve local volunteers, mobile canteens, and feeding kitchens were headed up north to Pensacola and Panama City Beach to provide relief to Hurricane Sally victims. That’s on top of the nearly 30 local volunteers who already are in the area helping out.
But, Major Whiten said the organization has had a hard time reaching many of the impacted areas so far because of downed trees and flooded areas, “There are power outages, even at some of our Salvation Army centers but we’re trying to coordinate efforts. So it’s quite disruptive right now to the incident command teams that are there. All of the volunteer officers and staff who are bringing help and hope to those communities."
Major Whiten said the Salvation Army prepared nearly 5,000 meals Thursday to distribute out to areas impacted by the hurricane. But, mother nature isn’t the only obstacle volunteers have had to deal with. New COVID-19 protocols have also changed up the way the salvation army operates.
“Trying to help ease someone’s stress and pain and just deescalate the crisis for them and to bring comfort, without the physical touch and some of those other things, it can be a little bit challenging," said Major Whiten.
The Suncoast Blood Bank is another organization helping out hurricane victims. The blood bank said Wednesday night they sent blood units to a hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, which experienced extreme flooding from Sally. The blood bank said they may get more requests in the coming days and are asking people to come donate blood, especially those who are “O” blood types.
“We’re in a critical situation. Typically by September 17th, where we’re at today we’ve had 12 high school drives. But because of COVID we are not bringing our buses into the high schools. 25 % of our collections during the school year comes from high school students. Right now we’re about 4 % coming from teenagers," said Suncoast Blood Bank’s Community Liaison Joan Leonard.
Leonard went on to say it’s important to always have a supply of blood, never knowing what the need will be when a disaster strikes.