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    Saturday, December 03, 2022

    Regional Red Cross chapter sending volunteers to Florida

    Mystic resident Linda Johansen is one of 20 Connecticut Red Cross volunteers waiting to deploy to Florida to help victims of Hurricane Ian. Photo courtesy of Linda Johansen.

    Mystic resident Linda Johansen said she’s always had a life of service, from serving in the Coast Guard to working as a teacher in East Lyme.

    Johansen, who is retired, started volunteering locally with the American Red Cross last November and now is among a group of Connecticut volunteers who will be assisting with the response to Hurricane Ian in Florida.

    She said she is on standby to be sent to Florida to help the Red Cross for at least two weeks with logistics, which means she will be helping behind-the-scenes with needs such as securing locations for shelters or coordinating transportation.

    “Every little bit will help,” said Johansen, adding that it will be a months-long recovery for the people in Florida.

    Jocelyn Hillard, regional communications director for the American Red Cross of Connecticut and Rhode Island Region, said 20 Connecticut volunteers, including nine from eastern Connecticut, “are either on the ground or getting ready to leave in the coming days to assist with the Hurricane Ian response.”

    “These nine volunteers will provide comfort and care to people in Red Cross shelters; help deliver and provide meals to communities; and, manage and distribute supplies for our shelters and in the affected areas,” she said.

    “The Red Cross is incredibly grateful to our volunteers in eastern Connecticut and throughout the state for raising their hands to help our neighbors in Florida and the surrounding areas in the wake of Hurricane Ian,” Hillard added.

    Johansen has been helping out with the Red Cross locally, mostly by offering assistance at house fires, so this will be her largest mission with the Red Cross. But she said she is healthy and has the time, inclination and skills to do it, and is happy to help meet the huge need in Florida.

    She said she will travel to Florida once it’s deemed safe to travel and is awaiting details about her specific destination and assignment. She said she’s ready to go and she expects she perhaps could leave on Friday.

    Johansen said if the situation were reversed, and Connecticut was being affected by a hurricane, people from other parts of the country would travel to Connecticut to help, which is what she thinks is the beauty of the whole thing.

    “Where you can, you try to help out,” she said.

    Mitch Gross, spokesperson for Eversource in Connecticut, said Eversource is closely evaluating the situation with Hurricane Ian and is ready to potentially provide crews and resources to Florida as needed.

    If Eversource does send support, he said the utility will retain the appropriate resources it needs to serve customers in Connecticut.

    Spokesmen for Groton Utilities and Norwich Public Utilities said the utilities had not been asked to provide help at this point in time.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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