Breaking News
More () »

Dozens of Red Cross volunteers from Minnesota, Dakotas prepare for Hurricane Ian

Kyle Parkinson, a shelter supervisor from Champlin, says 50 more volunteers from the region are on standby.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Thousands of National Guard members have been deployed to help in Florida, as well as Red Cross volunteers from all over the country.

Twelve are from Minnesota and are already on the ground there, including a woman from Champlin. 

Kyle Parkinson says anxiety levels are high because residents on the state's western coast, where the storm is expected to hit, aren't used to hurricanes. Historically, that area is hit less. 

"Because they don't know what's happening to their home and they don't know what they have to go back to," said Parkinson, who has volunteered with the agency for six years. 

She has responded to disasters all across the country, but is serving this time as an evacuation shelter supervisor and will hunker down in Jacksonville until after the storm hits. 

In the meantime, her job is to put people and supplies in place to better respond after Ian hits.

"It may die down in category level but it can still cause such devastation and that’s what we have to prepare for," said Parkinson. "We were at a level seven, which means that’s our highest response."

There are 30 volunteers from Minnesota and the Dakotas on the ground with 50 more on standby, who not only know devastation, but compassion, too.

"You do have to put up a little bit of a wall to protect your own heart because it is heartbreaking," said Parkinson. "I feel I gain so much more sometimes than I give, just by the people I meet and the lessons they teach me about their faith and resiliency is just incredible."

The hurricane could hover over Florida for days, bringing with it storm surge and strong wind. But Parkinson is prepared to help the millions of people forced to leave home.

"While a shelter may not be the most comfortable place to be, it will be the safest place for them if they are in an evacuation zone," said Parkinson.

Watch more local news:

Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out