The road to recovery after Hurricane Ian will be long and hard. Still, Southwest Florida families are getting help from volunteer organizations all over the U.S., including Team Rubicon.
Team Rubicon’s volunteers are veterans who come to disaster-stricken areas and do what it takes to help make communities whole again. The organization works with local agencies and governments to provide services including debris management, home repairs and, in some cases, emergency medicine and site surveys. Team Rubicon will get a portion of the $57 million Gov. DeSantis says was raised by the Florida Disaster Fund to help get Floridians back on their feet.
One volunteer, Britini Ryan, says it was difficult to leave her family for this volunteer work, but she knows the people in Southwest Florida need help, and she wants to make sure they get it.
Team Rubicon volunteers meet during post-Ian cleanup efforts in Southwest Florida. Credit: WINK News
“People’s homes were destroyed, especially in Fort Myers where the hurricane came through, and there’s a lot of homes that have been damaged by flooding,” Ryan said. “We’re trying to go in and clean up those homes, so homeowners can get back into their homes faster and start rebuilding and start seeing growth forward from the storm.”
Ryan says she is one of the volunteers responsible for going into homes that may have had flooding and other significant damages and cleaning them out. She came all the way from Oregon and says doesn’t want to leave until she can help as many people as possible. Ryan had to pack all her essential items and come to Punta Gorda, where she and 40 other Team Rubicon members sleep and eat during their mission.
“It can be challenging to leave home, but I know it’s taken care of back there, and these people need the support,” Ryan said. “It’s always great to come here and help them. Homeowners seem lost and stuck before the nonprofits can come in to help, and once we start clearing the debris and damage, homeowners can see the future and see positive growth. That way, they can stay in their home, rebuild their home and move forward as they need to.”