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How to help communities impacted by Hurricane Ian in Florida

On Wednesday, Hurricane Ian pummeled communities in Florida. By then, crews from East Tennessee were already on their way to help.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S., swamped southwest Florida on Wednesday, turning streets into rivers, knocking out power to 1.8 million people and threatening catastrophic damage further inland.

The hurricane's center made landfall near Cayo Costa, a barrier island just west of heavily populated Fort Myers. As it approached, water drained from Tampa Bay. And in the days leading up to the storm, emergency crews from East Tennessee left their homes and went to help communities start recovering from the storm.

Some organizations were also mobilizing online, inviting people to pitch into efforts to help Florida. Air Mobile Ministries in East Tennessee is planning to send high-tech water purifiers to the air, helping guarantee communities can stay healthy while they recover from the devastation. They are also taking purifiers to Puerto Rico as it recovers from Hurricane Fiona.

"When there's a disaster there's just something that stirs up inside that says we have to go," said Joe Hurston with Air Mobile Ministries. "The number one need following almost any disaster is clean water."

Some of those organizations are listed below.

The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross made a request on social media for donations of Type-O blood products, so that they could continue keeping supplies available for hospitals responding to emergency situations.

They are also collecting online donations to help cover the costs of helping communities recover.

"If there is any type of request made, that's when Red Cross comes in because that's our mission," said Sharon Hudson with the American Red Cross of East Tennessee.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is also collecting online donations to help crews provide air, shelter, food and other kinds of support in Florida. People can donate with PayPal, Venmo, Google Pay, credit cards or through a bank transfer.

The Humane Society of The U.S.

The Humane Society focuses on helping animals impacted by emergencies. They said they are responding to Hurricane Ian as well as a suspected dogfighting case, stretching rescue teams thin. While they do not oversee local animal shelters or rescues, they instead operate rescue teams and community-based programs to help animals.

They said they are matching donations dollar-for-dollar to help raise more money for teams responding to the hurricane.

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