By Betty Adams, American Red Cross volunteer
After learning that most of his Fort Myers-area neighbors were safe following the storm surge from Hurricane Ian, Brad Roller, a recent transplant from Cleveland, wanted to help the American Red Cross help others wherever he could.
So he signed up as what the Red Cross calls an event-based volunteer, and immediately found himself with a Red Cross feeding team in a vehicle packed with hot food for people in the hard-hit region.
“Today’s my first day on the job,” Roller said. “I’ve never done feeding before, but I’m a very experienced eater.”
“He’s going to be great,” said Katherine Reilly, one of the two regular feeding team volunteers, as they finished securing insulated food containers, water and snacks in the vehicle.
“He’s going to see a lot of people in one of the most devastated areas of Fort Myers,” his new teammate, Travis Lindsay, said. “We’re going to Fort Myers Beach and a lot of folks there are grateful we’re there helping them.
“There’s no other source of food on that island other than us and the World Kitchen. So we’ll be meetin’ and greetin’ those folks and giving them food so they can back to cleaning up their houses.”
Back in Northeast Ohio, Roller was a Red Cross disaster action team member for years as well as a Northeast Ohio Chapter board member. Now living much farther south, he and his family had minimal damage from the storm. “I’ve seen the devastation on TV, and my motivation is to help where I can help,” he said.
Roller and his family had prepared for the hurricane. “I sat looking out my sliding glass doors watching things blowing all over the place. We were enough inland that we didn’t feel too threatened, but we were prepared to go into a safe room if our 160-mile-an-hour glass didn’t hold. Fortunately, everything did, and we just had minor damage, but it was pretty ferocious.”
Roller was one of six event-based volunteers scheduled of help with mobile feeding the day he joined the relief effort. The Red Cross welcomes spontaneous local volunteers, who receive a background screening and abbreviated training for tasks across the operation to help those still working to recover from historic wind and water damage across Florida.
To become a trained disaster volunteer, go to redcross.org/volunteer or call 1-800-REDCROSS.
American Red Cross relief is free to anyone with disaster-caused needs, thanks to the generosity of the American people. If you would like to support the Hurricane Ian response financially, visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, text the words IAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or call 1-800-HELP NOW.