By WCCO Reporter Beret Leone
MINNEAPOLIS – American Red Cross volunteer and Twin Cities native David Schoeneck is waiting for the call to head down south and help those impacted by Hurricane Ian's punch.
He'll be one of the thousands of volunteers across the country stepping in to help. Right now, about 30 American Red Cross volunteers from Minnesota are on the ground, with even more on standby.
"It's gratifying to be able to go to a place that's suffering so badly and be able to there and just say, 'Hey, we're here to help you,'" Schoeneck said.
As a seasoned volunteer of 20 years, Schoeneck has seen a number of natural disasters, including six hurricanes outside of Ian.
"We're there when folks need us on the worst day of their life. When they are standing there, and their house is gone. All possessions are gone. They literally don't know what to do. We're going to help them," he said.
Some Minnesotans watching from a screen hundreds of miles away might be eager to step in, too. Schoneck said the best way to do that is through monetary donations.
"Number one and most critically, donations. Funding is the fastest, easiest and best way to support people. If you send money to RedCross.org," he said. "You press the big red button that says donate, that money is in Florida today. It can be used immediately."
It's the same ask at the Salvation Army.
"It will be hard to put a dollar amount on it for some time," Salvation Army Maj. Michele Heaver said.
Both organizations emphasize that money donated will be put to use instantly.
"It goes directly to Florida," Heaver said. "Food, clean-up kits, cleaning supplies, personal care items for people who lost everything. So, a lot of those household items might help put people in hotels. The need is vast."
Schoneck said there's even a way to monitor disasters, through the Red Cross Emergency Alert app. As of Thursday evening, about 35,000 people are taking cover with the help of about 250 Red Cross shelters.
"It will be a very long process," Heaver added. "Just like Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Harvey. It will be this one as well."
A need that won't go away after the weather does.
"While it's good to say thoughts and prayers, what we are doing is taking thoughts and prayers and taking it into action," Schoneck said.
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