Ohioans head to Florida to offer help ahead of Hurricane Irma

Posted at 4:56 PM, Sep 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-08 17:19:55-04

As the south braces for Hurricane Irma to make landfall in Florida this weekend, Northeast Ohioans are prepared to offer what they can to help. 

Rows and rows of volunteers at Cleveland's Red Cross trained Friday ahead of the storm.

James Jones told News 5 he signed up for the training after following the storm's forecasts the past week.

"They're gonna need a lot of help," Jones said.

With friends and family all over the state, Jones told News 5 he knows not everyone is evacuating; "They don't want to leave!" 

He said he hopes to be sent to Florida if more volunteers are needed. 

"These people have done this before. They think it's going to be the same. They don't know how serious it is," Jones said. 

He isn't alone. When it comes, northeast Ohioans are ready to do what they can once the storm hits. 

There are 40 volunteers from the Cleveland Red Cross in Florida or on the way down there already ahead of the storm. Most of the volunteers are shelter workers. 

"They're tasked with providing a dry safe place for people to stay," Jim McIntyre, with the Red Cross, told News 5.

Community Cares sent three of their ambulances to Florida with first responders; ready to share medical equipment and assistance. 

First Energy crews are scheduled to head to Florida Saturday morning, "If we were to get hit with something as nasty as Hurricane Irma, they would send help our way so we are happy to send help their way," said Nick Austin, the Director of Operations.

First Energy is sending nearly 900 people to help with utilities and restoration since power outages are expected. Around 50 of those workers are from the Cleveland area.

Linemen, damage assessors, electrical contractors, forestry crews, and support personnel are all ready to lend a hand. 

"You'll see traffic backed up as far as the eye can see heading north, and then you'll see our trucks with our employees heading down south. And they'll be the only ones on the road headed south," Austin said.