Maj. Carlyle Gargis, the Salvation Army area commander in Fort Myers, Florida, told Newsmax on Monday that the cleanup after Hurricane Ian is an ongoing "massive effort with everyone."
"We are now working hard to get food and resources out into the community, but one of the tough things is that those who are helping in disaster have also been affected by this disaster, because all of us have had damage to our homes or have lost homes completely," Gargis said during an appearance on Newsmax’s "National Report."
According to Reuters, at least 85 deaths had been attributed to the storm as of Monday morning, including 81 in Florida, which experienced the brunt of Ian's power when the storm barreled into the state's Gulf Coast on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph.
Risk modeling firm Verisk said Monday that insurers are predicting between $42 billion and $57 billion in losses, a total that includes damage from wind, storm surge, and flooding. Nearly all of the losses are in Florida.
When asked if the Salvation Army was in need of nonperishable food items, water, and generator donations to help those affected by the storm, Gargis said, "Of course, all of those items."
"Cash donations are the easiest for me because I can actually get my call-in from the field of what they need, and then I can call and have it ordered and shipped directly to that point," he said. "Right now, with the shortage of volunteers, it helps us to have it processed right to the place through the vendor."
Those who wish to give can either donate by calling or by going online, Gargis said.
"So, 1-800-SAL-ARMY is a great way to give or www.salvationarmyusa.org and that can really get us what we need quickly to the point of need," he said.
Gargis also said that, against the backdrop of destruction and fatalities, neighbors are pulling together to help each other as they rebuild from one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever make landfall in the United States.
"If someone has power, you'll see an extension cord running across the street to the other side that doesn't have power," the commander said. "We've had folks sharing gasoline with others to help with their generators to keep the refrigerators, at least, running. And, of course, here at the Salvation Army, a lot of our employees and their families have moved into their offices because they can't get into their homes.
"So it's everyone, it's all hands at the pump here doing all that we can to get through this mess."
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