More than 500 trained Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground in Florida to support sheltering and relief efforts. 16 of the volunteers from our region are in various stages of deployment.

John Clifford from Hinesburg is at an emergency evacuation center in Hillsborough County. “Well the day started off pretty early at 5 o’clock and we spent the morning continuing to receive evacuee clients that we could process through the evacuation center. Basically they come in and we do a temperature scan checking for any illness we give them some medical related questions.”

According to the Red Cross, roughly 13,000 people spent Tuesday night in hundreds of shelters across the Sunshine State. “We have seen well over 700 already and 370 those are children,” said Clifford.

Retired Vermont State Police Lieutenant Bill O’Leary lives on Marco Island and got the notice to evacuate but decided to stay put with his wife.

“So we are ready the building here is very secure and one of the reasons we stayed was because they put new windows and doors in here and they are ready for a category five hurricane, so rather than try to fight through traffic to go over to an area where it still could’ve got the effects from the hurricane we decided to stick it out here,” said O’Leary.

He says the gusts have been bad. “Over here and I am sorry about the wind, you can see we are getting very very strong wind gusts and sustained winds here.”

Clifford wants to encourage more people to volunteer if they can. “I have gotten a lot out of it, it’s just a great way to help people in their greatest time of need and give them everything they need to get through it.”

The Red Cross says donating money is the quickest and best way to support people impacted by disaster.