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Volunteers say reality of devastation from Hurricane Ian is much worse than what images show

Disaster relief volunteers brace for the worst as they head to Florida to help victims of Ian
Disaster relief volunteers brace for the worst as they head to Florida to help victims of Ian 02:29

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Greater Philadelphia Salvation Army is heading to Florida to help with relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ian. As images of the aftermath of Hurricane Ian continue to surface, volunteers say the reality is much worse. 

"My understanding is that it is just a devastated area, still no power, and that the pictures just don't do it justice," Major Tawny Cowen Zanders said. 

Major Tawny Cowen Zanders is the divisional secretary for the Greater Philadelphia Salvation Army. She boarded a plane to get to Port Charlotte via Tampa Wednesday, where volunteers told her to brave herself for not just the sights, but the smells. 

"When you smell the mud, when you smell rotting food from the power being off, it's a war zone," she said. 

The Salvation Army says they're expecting their response to Hurricane Ian to grow into one of the largest disaster relief operations in recent history. 

Services so far include:

  • More than 65,000 meals, food boxes, and snacks.
  • More than 50,000 drinks.
  • Hundreds of personal hygiene and clean-up kits and infant supplies and other support.

"My goal is to tell the stories of those who have not been heard yet and we know that you see on TV the beach and all of that but there still a lot of other people who haven't been assisted yet," Cowen Zanders said. 

CBS News confirms at least 100 people have died in Florida alone because of the storm while thousands remain without power. 

"We also are there to provide hope not just help and that's really important because we provide spiritual care and emotional care as you can imagine one day everything's there next day everything's wiped out," Cowen Zanders said. 

She will be back on the 18th but says recovery could last years.

Click here to help the victims of Hurricane Ian through Red Cross. 

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