INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s Task Force One is in New Orleans as of Monday night helping with search and rescue operations after Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana over the weekend.
Teams with AES Indiana are also heading south. Crews are staying in Jackson, Mississippi Monday night where they await their assignments in the morning.
Groups across central Indiana are following suit, mobilizing to assist our southern neighbors.
Midwest Food Bank and The American Red Cross of Central Indiana have stepped up to respond. They say they need Hoosier dollars, volunteer hours and even your blood to best serve those impacted by the storm.
“We wanna bring relief and hope to those people in their time of need right now. We need Indiana Hoosiers to step up and help us do that,” said John Whitaker, executive director of Midwest Food Bank. “It’s really heartwarming to know that Hoosiers here in Indiana are some of the first to respond.”
Midwest Food Bank is in the business of helping others, giving primarily to folks living in Indiana, but answering the call when disaster strikes nationwide.
“We don’t only just do local relief. We do national disaster relief for the Salvation Army. As a matter of fact, we’re first responders for them and even sending some food down to Haiti soon,” Whitaker said. “It’s the best ever feeling when you can take something that someone doesn’t have and freely give it to them.”
Two semi trailers loaded with boxes containing all sorts of food and essential goods will be sent south either Monday or Tuesday. Everything inside the boxes comes from donations and supplies purchased through your donor dollars. The boxes themselves are assembled and packed by Hoosier hands.
“Typically, what we send is family food boxes, and so those family food boxes have enough food and personal care items for a family of four for about a week,” Whitaker said. “It all comes from the community here to help our neighbors that are really struggling down in New Orleans and the southern part of the United States in the gulf areas that have been hit so hard.”
The Hoosier-made care packages aren’t the only things heading south.
“Since Saturday, we’ve been deploying volunteers in our emergency response vehicles down to the Gulf Coast,” said American Red Cross Regional Communication Director LaMar Holliday. “They’re from all across our region, so we have volunteers from South Bend, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and there’s some down in southern Indiana who are all deploying across our region.”
As of Monday evening, 21 Indiana volunteers with the Red Cross are in New Orleans, with more on the way.
“Those volunteers are going down to help with sheltering efforts, helping to feed those who have been affected,” Holliday said. “This is what we call Hoosier hospitality. When we see disasters like this, our people here in our region, they are ready to deploy, to help people that they don’t even know.”
Whether it’s through a box, blood or boots on the ground, in times of crisis, Hoosiers help.
“I want those folks to know that we’re by their side. Right here, people in the home state of Indiana, good Hoosier people haven’t forgotten you,” Whitaker said. “People in Indiana are some of the first ones in to help, and being born and raised here as a native Hoosier, it’s really a good feeling knowing that we are the first to step up and help our neighbors in need.”