Residents help with hurricane relief | News, Sports, Jobs

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When Florida families faced tragedy after Hurricane Ian, Pennsylvanians asked how they could help.

Virginia Borek of Williamsport traveled to Fort Myers, Florida with the American Red Cross. She delivers hot meals, prepared in one of the Red Cross mobile kitchens, to affected families.

She can drive up to 100 miles from the mobile kitchen to deliver meals. The journey is further complicated by road closures and painstaking efforts to ensure deliveries do not impede other, more immediate rescue efforts.

“It takes a long time to get anywhere” she says. “It can be a 12-hour day.”

Borek said much of the damage she sees is from trees downed by hurricane winds, flooding and “boats stacked on boats.”

“There are many houses that are no longer habitable” said Borek.

Borek is no stranger to Red Cross relief efforts — she is “I’ve been doing this on and off for 18 years.” This is the third time in 2022 that she has visited a disaster site.

In the past, she has delivered other supplies to survivors like rakes, shovels and blankets and assessed the damage so the Red Cross can determine who needs what. Borek said the Red Cross performs many tasks and volunteers first receive specialized training.

“Our immediate goal is to help people get through the initial shock,” said Borek. “They’re just grateful to have a break and a hot meal.”

PPL sent 30 contractors, mostly tree trimming crews, to South Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian’s destruction and in need to restore power to Floridians.

Crews were dispatched from PPL Electric Utilities in Pennsylvania, said Tracey Witter, regional affairs manager for PPL Electric Utilities.

PPL also offered to send additional resources if needed, she said.

Additionally, PPL Corp. sent resources from sister utilities Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities to the area, she said.

FPL.com (Florida Power and Light) provided computer users with a map that allows individuals to click on a specific city or location in Southwest Florida to determine the number of outages.

However, FPL’s Bill Silagy said only customers whose homes and buildings are safe to receive power, according to an update from National Public Radio.

“Some sections, like Fort Myers Beach, it’s a search and rescue operation – and unfortunately in some areas – a recovery operation. And we’re just not going to put people at risk by electrifying this area,” Silagy said, adding that he suspected it would continue for at least a week.


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