Cuba was hit before Ian gained strength and began impacting Florida. I haven’t seen any detailed reports of impacts on the ground there through Mutual Aid networks yet, just people repeating the news reports that the electrical grid on the island was taken off line. I did see one person on a text chat group looking into what it took to move humanitarian aid across borders. Apparently there is Cuban paperwork to contend with. If you have personal knowledge about that process, it would be great to hear from you and connect you with others interested.
The Mutual Aid Disaster Relief network communications are full with many people in Florida - folks in St. Petersberg, Tampa, Orlando are currently tracking power outages and offering well-checks. One person works with a group which has helped transport people living on the streets to shelters. Someone as far away as Dade county reported tornado warnings there. It sounds like there is a great network of Mutual Aid folks in Florida in several different communities, and they are making plans to come together after the worst passes by. In Tampa bay they have a location ready to serve as a distribution point for supplies already. Several of these Florida folks have been involved in Mutual Aid Disaster Relief (MADR) for years and some came to North Carolina to help with Hurricane Florence a few years ago.
Elsewhere MADR affiliated people north of us are already putting out calls for material, collecting items which are pretty much always needed. Locally here in the Triangle area of North Carolina, we do have some storage space available to collect materials and some people willing to help sort and coordinate. Before we start putting out calls to collect items and transportation funds, though, it would probably be good to have a person or two willing to drive items south to impacted areas. Would you or someone you know be willing to dive a van or truck, either all the way to Florida or perhaps to a hand-off spot if another group can be identified along the way willing to relay materials? If so, please let us know.
For folks wanting to help remotely, there is an Amazon “Wish List”. Monetary donations can be sent to the main MADR account. The only direct request I’m aware of at this point is for one family displaced by the storm who needs help paying for a hotel room. As of the last I saw they were $95 away from their goal and collecting funds at https://www.paypal.me/Gudwetshyt813
I imagine there will be more direct asks and more specific needs in the days to come. This storm is on the verge of becoming Category 5 just as it is slamming into the coast south of Tampa, near Fort Myers. The current predictions has it crossing the state, going briefly out to sea, then hitting again between Savannah Georgia, and Charleston South Carolina after which it will head inland and likely bring us days of rain in central NC. From the chat thread just a bit ago: “we're seeing 40-50mph gusts all the way up in Mobile... this storm is massive”.
After a major storm like this hits, there are needs which linger for YEARS. Local Mutual Aid collectives can play a meaningful role by coordinating skill shares to learn about “mucking and gutting” (immediate after-flood remediation to prevent long-term mold damage) as well as construction and electrical skills. We can help to coordinate and amplify such skill-share efforts if we know about them, so let us know. If at any point a crew of people wants to take some time out from their usual routine and help out with long-term recovery efforts, we can likely help make connections. At this moment I know Mutual Aid organizers in eastern Kentucky are very much in need of person-power to repair homes damaged by flooding at the end of July this year.