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Utahns Helping Floridians Following Storms

Utahns Helping Floridians Following Storms

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Jed Boal ReportingResidents of Florida are picking up after Hurricane Jeanne, the fourth such storm to hit the state in six weeks. Thousands of people are staying in homeless shelters, their homes destroyed by strong winds and heavy rains.

Seventy-three people have been killed by the storms. Two point six million people are without power. With all of that destruction in Florida and the Southeast, help is pouring in from across the country.

The Hurricane season that just keeps pounding has caused the largest relief effort in the history of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. DeeEll Fifield of Utah Emergency Services spent ten days working for FEMA in Atlanta before Jeanne arrived.

DeeEll Fifield, Division of Emergency Services: “Initially it was really chaotic. FEMA had never had such a massive call up of people.”

Several thousand people have been called up from all walks of life. Fifield is one of eight state emergency employees deployed to the Southeast in the past six weeks. Three remain in Tallahassee helping local emergency managers deploy their resources.

DeeEll Fifield, Division of Emergency Services: “You get a sense of the American spirit, the spirit of helping others, people willing to do that and set aside their lives."

The Red Cross in Salt Lake has sent all four of its large emergency response vehicles to deal with the destruction. In addition, during the last six weeks they have deployed 27 people as part of the largest emergency shelter operation in history.

Leslie Schaffer, American Red Cross-Interim C.E.O.: “It certainly is the largest response of volunteers we've had in the greater slat lake area."

Those volunteers are sheltering storm victims, getting them food and water, and trying to comfort them emotionally and mentally.

The opportunity to help fills a desperate need, but it's the best disaster training the Utahns could ever have. When our state is hit with an emergency in the future, they'll be ready to step up at home.

If you want to help, the Red Cross suggests financial support.

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