Cincinnati-based organizations head south to help hurricane victims

Posted at 6:03 PM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 18:03:25-04

CINCINNATI -- Duke Energy workers gathered early Friday morning to head south to restore power to the hundreds of thousands left in the dark by Hurricane Matthew.

Sally Thelen, Duke Energy spokesperson, said that the crew lives for lending a helping hand in these types of situations.

"They live to kind of make sure that they're able to help people in the community, and certainly weather events like this one are going to put them to the test," Thelen said.

In addition to Duke Energy’s work, The American Red Cross is assisting individuals who are out of their homes, and Matthew 25 Ministries, a humanitarian aid and disaster relief organization, has assembled cleaning kits and first aid supplies.

Duke Energy workers will be based in Orlando for five to eight days along with 250 other crew members -- the largest group for one storm in recent years.

"Once they're down there the work's generally the same -- making sure that they're able to help get the power back on and restored in a safe and efficient manner for those folks," Thelen said.

The Cincinnati chapter of The American Red Cross already has 15 people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Patricia Smitson, CEO of the Greater Cincinnati/Dayton Region, said their primary focus is setting up shelters for those forced out of their homes.

"It's shelter, it's feeding, it's health care, health services,” Smitson said. “Over 27,000 people were in shelters last night, and we expect that number to stay great."

She said once shelters are established, volunteers will move into damage assessment.

"We'll be distributing bulk items for cleanup,” Smitson said. “We'll continue to feed and distribute food in the neighborhoods -- food and water -- and then we'll open cases and be sure that we're connecting the people to long-term services."

The disaster relief team from Matthew 25 Ministries leaves Sunday with a Tide “Loads of Hope” truck and other speciality vehicles.

Tim Mettey, CEO of Matthew 25 Ministries, said volunteers will distribute various items to those in need.

"We have a Cintas first aid and safety vehicle where we hand out cleaning supplies and stuff to protect them, and we also have a P&G panel truck that goes down where we hand out the personal care items,” Mettey said.