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Red Cross of North Florida brings in specialists ahead of Tropical Storm Ian

Red Cross leaders are encouraging families to make their own preparations.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Red Cross of North Florida has already been busy, recently handing out 150 hurricane prep buckets to folks in communities that constantly see flooding from storms.

With Tropical Storm Ian on the horizon, they are cranking that up even more.

But, some long-time Jacksonville residents aren't in prep mode just yet.

"We usually wait until about three days out and then decide what we're going to do," said Parker McCrary on his way out of a Lowe's.

McCrary has seen his fair share of hurricanes in his more than two decades living in Jacksonville.

His fellow Lowe's shoppers may have been a bit more focused on Tropical Storm Ian than he was - a manager says they've already been selling a lot of generators ahead of the storm.

However, a generator isn't at the top of McCrary's shopping list for this storm.

"Keep a stockpile of water and ice cream in the freezer," said McCrary. "If it does look like a storm is coming, we eat the ice cream first."

Red Cross of North Florida has its own priorities to take care of this week.

"Working very closely with our own emergency managements and assessing where we will open our shelters, where we will need to have food and water and things placed," said North Florida Red Cross CEO Christian Smith. "Also, making sure we have the necessary people."

Smith says emergency operations services will announce what shelters will open around 48 hours ahead of impact.

She says they've already started bringing in damage assessment, mental health and shelter specialists from other states and counties that may not see as strong effects from the storm.

But, the Red Cross's main job right now - is reminding families to answer some big questions over the next few days.

"Would you stay, or would you leave? If you were going to evacuate, where would go? have you thought about what you would take with you," said Smith.

Smith says one important thing to remember for folks with little ones - is to try to involve the kids as much as possible.

"It's scary, right? Going through a storm, losing electricity in your home, no TV, no lights, all those things can be really scary," said Smith. "Having those conversations with your children can really make a big difference."

McCrary doesn't have any kids at home these days to have those conversations with, so he'll just play it by ear.

"Unless it really intensifies and looks like it's going to be a problem, we'll hunker down," said McCrary.

The Red Cross does have a few suggestions of things to take care of this weekend to start getting ready.

Top off the gas tank, get medication refills if you need them and clean up any debris that's already out around the house.


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