Florida is in recovery mode following the estimated $100 billion worth of damages from Hurricane Irma last week.
The areas most heavily impacted in the U.S. by Irma are the Florida Keys, Miami, St. Augustine, Marco Island, Jacksonville and Naples. Charleston, South Carolina, also experienced massive tidal surges that affected many flatland areas.
Many organizations immediately established relief funds to help the victims of Irma. These organizations include UNICEF USA, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, Red Cross and many more.
Large corporations pledged money and resources to help the victims. Apple donated $5 million to the relief efforts for victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, according to CNBC.
Uber is donating $400,000 worth of rides, food and relief to victims and first responders. Lyft is also donating $100,000 to help victims travel to and from hospitals and shelters.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that as of Monday, 391,000 people are still without power, but thanks to 30,000 restoration workers, it has been restored to 94 percent of people who had outages — the greatest power restoration ever for a state.
Scott brought in 1,200 National Guard members to aid the state during the recovery process. Forty-five shelters are open throughout Florida, as are 12 special needs shelters.
Groups in Oxford organized their own relief efforts with supply drives, collections and donation boxes.
Chi Alpha, a student ministry group on campus, aided in relief efforts by putting together convenience packs, flood kits and buckets.
“We are working with a state organization called Mississippi Assemblies of God Disaster Response to make kits that contain a hand towel, toothbrushes and tooth paste, Band-Aids, soap, comb and nail clippers,” Chi Alpha staff member Rae Moore said.
Items in the flood buckets include laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, soap, air freshener, insect repellent, scrub brushes, cleaning wipes, sponges, clothespins, masks and gloves.
“The students in our ministry are working with their individual small groups to get the items together, and we will be sending them down in two weeks,” Moore said. “The disaster response team told us they will be needing items like this for months, so we will try to do this a couple more times this school year.”
Laura Geiss, a sophomore special education major from Viera, Florida, said her family is currently experiencing post-Irma effects.
“Most homes are still without cable and power,” Geiss said. “Trucks have been brought in from other states. Florida Power and Light has done a great job of helping people get power. Water was back fast, but now there is contamination, so the water has to be boiled. Some roads are washed out, but the city is still working on a plan to repair them, and most of the debris has been cleared.”
Geiss said most of her family and friends did not evacuate, despite state advisories to do so, because they have lived in Florida their whole lives and did not want to leave.
“My town was told to evacuate a few days before the storm because we were right in its path,” Geiss said. “But, of course, most of my family and friends did not evacuate. Many have lived in Florida their whole lives and wanted to stay. Thankfully, Irma’s path moved more west, so my town was not hit as hard as expected, but there still was a lot of damage.”
Senior general studies major Alexa Salerno said her hometown, Tampa, was not impacted by Irma as much as other areas were, but it is still experiencing power outage restorations and recovery.
“Tampa didn’t get hit as bad as other places, but it’s still flooded, and there is still no power in most places,” Salerno said.
Geiss said her family and many others in Florida are grateful for the quick response of relief efforts made by the state, first responders and thousands of organizations.
“There has been so much help coming in following Hurricane Irma, and I know people are grateful for the urgency and mass relief effort to help not just my area but the entire state,” Geiss said. “It’s comforting to see how much people care and are going out of their way to make a difference.”