Some Valley natives in Florida amid Hurricane Ian

You can make donations to the American Red Cross to help with the destruction and aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Alyssa Flores Image
Thursday, September 29, 2022
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As Hurricane Ian rumbles through Florida, we spoke to Valley natives who are currently in the path of the storm.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This is the first time that 25-year-old Merced native Whitney Derr has prepared for a Hurricane.

"I made sure that I had a full tank of gas, I had a bag packed and ready to go," she said. "Just taking the precautions that if it's a fight or flight situation, that I was ready for it."

The theme park Whitney works at in Orlando will remain closed through Thursday as Hurricane Ian rips through central Florida.

As a California native, she was taken aback at how quickly the hurricane moved closer.

RELATED: Hurricane Ian makes landfall near Cayo Costa, Florida, begins weakening as it moves inland

"Within the last 24 hours, things started to progress a lot faster," she said. "Rain and wind started to come in a lot faster, so that was a little bit frightening."

Meantime, in another part of Orlando, William Beebe is volunteering with the American Red Cross. He lives in Visalia, but Central Florida is where he was born and raised. He knew he had to come and help.

WATCH | Hurricane Ian whips up strong waves as storm barrels toward Florida

"When this happened and I started seeing where it was going, I told my wife I have to do this because this is my home," he said. "This is where I was born, so it's kind of a sense that I needed to be out here because this is home for me."

William is stationed in Orlando at the American Red Cross' makeshift headquarters for Hurricane Ian response. He's part of the team that's handling logistics for 14 shelters in Florida.

William says there's nowhere he would rather be when his home state is facing a disaster.

RELATED: Powerful storm scenes: Voices of fear, hope as Ian lashes Florida

"It's home for me and I needed to be out here to help these people," he said.

William says his mother just lost power in St. Petersburg, Florida, so he's relieved to be within driving distance.

You can make donations to the American Red Cross to help with the destruction and aftermath of Hurricane Ian. There are also opportunities to volunteer with the organization.