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10.05.2022

Hurricane Ian: How to Help

Learn more about Project HOPE’s response and how you can help.

Updated: October 12, 2022

Hurricane Ian was one of the strongest storms to ever hit the United States. Project HOPE has staff on the ground supporting the most vulnerable communities.  

Project HOPE prepositioned an Emergency Response Team (ERT) in Florida before Hurricane Ian made landfall, allowing us to access the most affected areas within the first 12 hours. Over a week later, the death count continues to climb and hundreds of thousands are still without electricity, clean drinking water, and the ability to safely travel. Project HOPE is focused on ensuring that the most vulnerable and marginalized populations—the elderly, people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions, those living in poverty, and people who are undocumented—can access the help and care they need.  

Your support saves lives. Help us reach people affected by Hurricane Ian and other crises today. 

The team is working to provide psychological first aid, medical support, and much-needed supplies within evacuation shelters, special needs shelters, and health clinics. To date, we have distributed over 250,000 relief items and have supplied items such as over-the-counter medicines, diapers, bedpans, infant supplies, chronic disease supplies, hygiene kits, water, non-perishable food items, and first-aid kits in Charlotte, Collier, Lee and Sarasota Counties. 

Many clinics and communities sustained severe damage, lost supplies, and staffing shortages due to the hurricane so Project HOPE medical volunteers are providing surge support, while we continue to provide clinics with medical and hygiene supplies so that they can serve their communities. Project HOPE medical volunteers are now stationed with the Premier Mobile Health Center, a Free and Charitable Clinic in North Fort Myers, in addition to other locations throughout the impacted areas.

We will continue working with national and local partners across the affected area to conduct assessments and to access the communities that still need our support. 

Supporting Vulnerable Communities

Project HOPE is particularly focused on supporting marginalized communities – including communities of color, people living in poverty, people without documentation, and those with disabilities and pre-existing medical conditions – who were facing disparities and inequities even before the disaster and have been disproportionately impacted by its impact. Project HOPE staff intervened to help a fishing community who lacked access to sanitation facilities by providing portable toilets to eliminate health and sanitation risks. 

“We are seeing the marginalized populations are not getting adequate assistance – it’s communities of color, people living in poverty, those who are undocumented or living with disabilities who are in the most need. Some of the more rural communities are completely cut off. Yes, there are shelters and community centers, but they aren’t always accessible. [These populations] can’t get to help if they don’t have a car or can’t afford the gas to drive there. Yesterday, for instance, our teams delivered tarps to a mobile home community where people are sleeping in RVs that no longer have roofs. Project HOPE is focused on these vulnerable groups because we know – from our experience responding to disasters like this and working throughout clinics in this region throughout the pandemic – that long after the news cycle and the donations move on, these are the communities who will still be struggling to get back on their feet.” – Chessa Latifi, Senior Program Officer, Project HOPE 

Both Lee County and Charlotte County have populations that trend older than the rest of Florida. Charlotte County has a median age of 60 and 40% of residents are over 65. In Lee County, home to Fort Myers, nearly 30% of the population is over 65. 

The population on Florida’s southwest coast has developed rapidly in recent decades, jumping sevenfold since 1970 according to the Associated Press. Lee County’s population alone has increased 19% in just the last eight years. 

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Please make a compassionate gift today to help save lives around the world. Your support means more children and families can get the vital medicines and care they need now — and that health workers will have the training and support they need to save lives for years to come.

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