Around F.C., News

Local Organizations Lend a Helping Hand in Hurricane Ian Relief

Although Hurricane Ian has dissipated over two weeks ago, the southeastern coast of the U.S. is still reeling from the effects and damages the Category 4 Atlantic hurricane has caused. 

Labeled the “deadliest hurricane to strike the state of Florida since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane,” Hurricane Ian’s devastating impact has affected thousands of people living mainly in Florida and South Carolina. With Virginia only facing fewer damages and reparations from the storm, local organizations are doing their part in helping with the relief of people and places heavily afflicted by the storm.

In the City of Falls Church and surrounding areas, shelters, churches and non-profit organizations are lending a helping hand to those who have suffered losses due to Hurricane Ian. Whether it be returning or rehoming beloved pets, creating care packages, or traveling to those affected areas to search and rescue those unaccounted for, these organizations are doing their part to provide help in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. 

Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation is a Falls Church-based non-profit organization helping homeless pets “find their way to loving homes through rescue and adoption.” The organization prepared their Rescue Care Center for an emergency intake of pets impacted by Hurricane Ian. 

Chloe Floyd is the media and public relations manager and volunteer manager for the organization, said the organization was contacted by one of their national partners BISSELL Pet Foundation to help shelter pre-evacuated pets from the path of the hurricane. Floyd said they weren’t aware of the number of pets they would receive until the day of their arrival.

Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation has taken in 37 dogs affected by Hurricane Ian. The organization prepared their Rescue Care Center for the emergency intake. (Photo Courtesy: Chloe Floyd)

The Rescue Care Center received two intakes of animals, leading to a total of 37 dogs taking shelter at the organization. Floyd stated the first group of pets received were rescued before Hurricane Ian made landfall, which helped create “more capacity in the shelters and rescues down in Florida.” The second group were found and rescued in the wake of the hurricane, which Floyd said the organization has evolved from “pre, during and post-Hurricane Ian.” 

Although Floyd said the organization is “very well positioned to react to emergencies and crises” like Hurricane Ian, there was the challenge of making sure the rescued pets received the “appropriate care” due to volunteers not knowing what their medical needs were and making sure they didn’t pose “an additional risk” to the animals already staying at the shelter. Floyd said the goal by the end of all this would be to make sure that all 37 dogs the organization brought in “find their forever homes” and receive the “behavioral medical care they need.” 

Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna started a fundraiser called “Gift From the Heart Relief Kits” that is helping Florida residents. These relief kits are funded by donations given by church members and local residents. Cleanup bucket kits and hygiene kits are the two kinds of kits provided to the people affected by the hurricane. 

Once the kits are accounted for, volunteers will drive them to a processing center in Maryland, where they will then be delivered to hard-hit areas in Florida. 

The church had previously held a similar drive to prepare welcome kits for Afghan refugees. That effort drew widespread interest from the community, with an estimated 85 percent of kit donations coming from non-church members. 

Fairfax-based first responder non-profit organization Tidewater Disaster Response (TDR) serves nationally at the request of fire departments and emergency management agencies. The organization deployed a five-person team to respond to Hurricane Ian. 

After the initial landfall of the hurricane, the team of volunteer first responders headed down to southwest Florida to meet a team of eight other local volunteers. When they arrived at Fort Myers, they began to pull people out of their flooded homes in the wake of Hurricane Ian. 

During an interview with WUSA9, TDR logistics coordinator Costa Sardelis stated there were several individuals that volunteers of the organization “took out of their homes and brought to a local area hospital.” He added there were a “handful” of individuals who chose to stay in their homes despite the storm, which volunteers of TDR “checked on” while dispatched in the area. 

The acts of kindness and service these organizations have displayed following the impact of Hurricane Ian can be a feeling of relief to local residents, as they can safely assume if an event such as Hurricane Ian was to affect them, they would have the help and resources they need. Hopefully in the future, there will be even more local organizations lending a helping hand for future crises.