As Hurricane Ian makes landfall, Local Red Cross volunteer preps to provide aid

Central Illinois Chapter of Red Cross
Central Illinois Chapter of Red Cross(WEEK)
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 2:43 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - Relief efforts nationwide are mobilizing to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Ian, and Illinois volunteers are no different.

Dean Otta has volunteered with the Red Cross for 12 years, responding to disasters of all shapes and sizes nationwide. He was previously a volunteer firefighter and decided to join the Red Cross to help out.

“I like helping people,” Otta said. “I’d seen [the Red Cross] on TV, on the news before and I had even signed up... I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

He has a bag full of the clothes and supplies he’ll need during his two- to three-week stay in Florida. Otta will distribute essential supplies to Red Cross Agencies in Florida, other relief efforts, and residents in need of help. as they return to evacuated homes.

He had not left for Florida yet as of Wendesday, but expects to leave for Tallahassee, Florida, and then drive to where relief efforts are needed this weekend. While he waits, he’s watching weather coverage to get an idea of what he’ll be heading into and reviewing the training he’s had to be prepared.

He’s happy to help people in what he agrees may be one of the worst moments of their life. He recalled a time when he was met with kindness by people following a disaster while handing out food to a man.

“He says to me ‘I’m praying for you.’ I said ‘you’re praying for me? I should be praying for you, you lost everything you know.’ and he says, ‘You left your family for two weeks to help us and you don’t even know us. I’m still praying for you,’” he said.

“That’s a story that really touched me,” he continued.

Otta said people can help those reeling from Ian by supporting the Red Cross.