SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The devastation of Hurricane Ian hits close to home for people with ties to Florida, some with family still down there picking up the pieces.
Travis Wathen splits his time between Savannah and Florida. He describes the moment Ian tore through his Arcadia neighborhood, an hour north of Fort Myers, as nothing short of terrifying.
“It was like a bomb being dropped, if that makes any sense,” he said. “The hurricane eye sat over us for two hours, 140 mile per hour winds. I literally, we felt the house shifting back and forth.”
Travis returned to Savannah on Monday morning to collect supplies to bring back to Arcadia, where his wife and kids still are. He said his house still does not have running water or electricity.
“A lot of the images you’re seeing on TV is nothing compared to what you can see in person and what I literally am watching unfold in front of me,” Travis said. “We’re doing everything we can. We’re going to come back stronger, we’re going to continue to make strides to be better.”
Travis said it will take a long time for his community to heal.
“The most devastated community though was our poorest community,” he said. “Where they already don’t have anything, now they have even less. They were being taken out by airboats, they were taken out by helicopter, they were being rescued.”
Organizations in Southeast Georgia and South Carolina are already answering the call to help Florida. Christian Social Ministries, a nonprofit in Statesboro, is looking for donations to deliver next week.
“It could’ve been us,” said director John Long. “And one day it will be us. There might be a day that comes you know we’ll be standing in a shell here that’s blown away. And there will be a time wherever we’re going to need help and this is what I’m called to do.”
Christian Social Ministries is looking for a variety of supplies including tarps, shovels, cleaning supplies, flash lights, batteries, paper towels, diapers, baby food, pet food and hygiene products. You can drop off at 31 North Zetterower Ave. or 122 East Parrish Street.
Travis is planning to bring back supplies to Florida on Friday. He’s looking for clothes (especially for kids), baby formula, diapers, nonperishable food and personal hygiene products. You can arrange donation drop-off or pickup by contacting Travis through his nonprofit by clicking or tapping here.