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San Antonio-area organizations mobilizing to help Florida as Hurricane Ian bears down

Several SA organizations are heading to Florida or on immediate stand by as the hurricane moves inland.

SAN ANTONIO — Hurricane Ian is growing in strength as it pushes closer to Florida's west coast and the race to prepare for the storm is underway.

Here in San Antonio, organizations are also answering the call for help.

Crews from CPS Energy will be sending 35 employees to join other energy workers from across the county to assist with power restoration. This includes linemen, pole crews, fleet personnel, safety teams and management.

Jacksonville Energy Authority made the request for help last Sunday.

Crews will stage in Mobile, Alabama, and wait for JAE to give them the green light before entering Florida. 

CPS Energy expects their crews will be in Jacksonville for at least two weeks.

"Our mission is to help the public and we're part of a municipal utility. Part of that is just helping our fellow public partners to restore power and make sure theirs customer the basic needs of electricity," said Richard Medina of CPS Energy.

The Salvation Army is also on standby for likely deployment to Florida.

Staff and volunteers from its San Antonio and New Braunfels offices are ready to respond if needed. Its Emergency Disaster Services Teams have been preparing for respond and relief operations the last few days.

The Salvation Army of Florida has 27 mobile kitchens ready to respond and here in Texas, an Incident Command Team and five mobile units, including a units from San Antonio and New Braunfels are being readied to provide additional support if needed.

"We'll go in and we'll feed first responders. If there are displaced families and individuals, we'll certainly feed them and other volunteers. Our goal in a situation like this is to feed and feed as many as we can," said Brad Mayhar of the local Salvation Army.

The New Braunfels Office left to Florida Tuesday evening and will presumably stop at a staging area in Mobile, Alabama as they wait for for specific orders.

Mayhar said financial donations made on their website goes a hundred percent to disaster relief.

The Central and South Texas Region of the American Red Cross has sent four volunteers from across the region to Florida, and an Emergency Response Vehicle. The organization also has seven volunteers on stand by.

Before the storm, the Red Cross moved truckloads of additional cots, blankets and comfort kits, along with tens of thousands of relief supplies into the region to be prepared to help as many as 60,000 people. Dozens of emergency response vehicles are also pre-positioned across the state.

Donations can be made on their website to help people recover from this disaster.

South Texas Blood & Tissue has sent blood to blood centers in Florida, and is preparing to send additional units if needed.

Donors are encouraged to schedule a donation before a spike in the need for blood.

Donors can make an appointment to give at one of nine donor centers or at a community blood drive. To schedule, visit SouthTexasBlood.org or call 210-731-5590.

San Antonio-based WaterFleet is providing water and seweage solutions to emergency camps for frontline workers and responders.

The utility service deployed a vehicle convoy of more than 20 of its mobile utility units.

“Recovery teams are often dealing with limited resources and harsh conditions. Clean water is one of the most essential and immediate needs during the relief effort,” said Alan Pyle, CEO of WaterFleet.

“The WaterFleet team will be providing the essential resources of running water and wastewater treatment for these emergency camps to support the response teams who came rushing into the area to help. We are proud to help those who are helping others.”

The WaterFleet systems are capable of operating for an extended period of time which is critical as recovery efforts in the affected areas are expected to take months.

SeaWorld Orlando is closing its park through Thursday in response to the hurricane's landfall. 

After reviewing the latest route of Hurricane Ian and to ensure the safety of our ambassadors, guests, and animals,...

Posted by SeaWorld Orlando on Tuesday, September 27, 2022

We reached out to SeaWorld San Antonio for comment. In a statement, they told us their zoological department is on standby.

"Although they have a very capable and accomplished rescue team, should our colleagues at SeaWorld in Orlando need assistance with the animals in their park, or if there are animals in nature affected by the storm and in need of rescue, we are ready to mobilize and help," said Chuck Cureau of SeaWorld San Antonio.

The San Antonio Zoo is also on standby through its association and group called Zoo Disaster Response, Rescue and Recovery.

The group, also known as ZDR3, formed after Hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas coast in 2017.

For the fourth time in recent years San Antonio Zoo is mobilizing a support unit Sunday morning to the main impact zone...

Posted by San Antonio Zoo on Saturday, October 1, 2022

The group's network includes a hundred zoo facilities across 25 states. This includes facilities in Florida.

Since forming, the group has run multiple operations using network members to respond and provide aid to peers. The helps includes clearing debris, facility repairs, assisting staff keepers and evacuating animals.

In 2020, the San Antonio Zoo took part in a multi-day mission in Louisiana. It was a coordinated response by ZDR3 after Hurricanes Laura and Sally.

Now as Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida, ZDR3 is prepared to head out again to assist.

"This is our biggest potential deployment of the year. We have many units on stand by. We are hoping for Florida's sake that we don't have to activate but if we need to we can," said Julia Wagner, executive director of ZDR3. 

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