Washington residents travel to Florida to help displaced residents find shelter during Hurricane Ian

Debbie Lutskas left her home in Moses Lake on Tuesday and took a one-way flight to Orlando, where she isn’t sure when she’ll come back home.

“(I’ll stay) until they don’t need me anymore,” Lutskas said over the phone on Thursday. “My husband is hoping I’m back before Christmas, but I don’t know. Some of these people are going to be in shelters for six months or longer.”

Lutskas and eight other local residents traveled to Florida to help displaced residents, according to a spokesperson with Red Cross Northwest Region.

That includes Jolynn Lucas, who left her Anacortes home to volunteer at an evacuation center in Cross City, Florida, according to Red Cross Northwest Region.

There’s also Aaron Holloway, who left his Richland home to volunteer at a shelter in Perry, Florida, according to Red Cross Northwest Region.

Lutskas, who is also a supervisor for the Red Cross Disaster Action Team, said her team — one of many — is helping around 1,700 displaced residents. She notes the total is likely higher.

“There are a lot of communities that are completely underwater. We’re talking all the way up past the rooftops. So there’s going to be a lot of communities that have no way of just going back into their houses because everything’s just been destroyed,” she said.

Lutskas said evacuation shelters provide everything from cots, blankets, food, and medical equipment such as medical beds, walkers and wheelchairs.

“Whatever you need, we’ll get that for you,” she said. “You meet some of the greatest people. You know their whole world just got turned upside down, and they’ve still got a positive attitude,” said Lutskas.

If you’d like to volunteer or make a donation to help provide resources for those displaced by Hurricane Ian, you can find out more here.