DERBY, Kan. (KSNW) — Several Kansans volunteering with the Red Cross will be heading to Florida in the coming days in the wake of Hurricane Ian. One couple from Derby is preparing to make the 20-hour journey early Thursday morning.
Pat and Lori Loney say their involvement with the Red Cross began in 2020. The couple had recently retired, and after seeing a Facebook post calling for volunteers, they decided it was the perfect time to get started. With their training completed earlier this year, this deployment to Florida will mark their first out of state, but it’s certainly not the first time they’ve assisted in the wake of a disaster.
“Until you get boots on the ground and experience it firsthand, you have a whole different perspective of what those people have gone through and what they’re going to go through in the coming months,” Pat Loney said.
The couple first volunteered with the Red Cross in the aftermath of the Andover tornado this past April.
“A lot of times when you’re out there, you are the first face they see, but you get them in touch with the other people in the Red Cross — we get their name to the right people to get them a glimmer of hope that they’re not by themselves,” Lori Loney said.
Now, the couple says they’re taking what they’ve learned in Andover to Florida, where they will assist displaced residents there for the next two weeks.
“Our job this time is similar to what we did in Andover: we will be driving the RV into the neighborhoods, and we’re on the feeding group, so we will be feeding out of the RV, or we could be sent to one of the shelters to feed,” Lori Loney said.
However, the couple says they fear the magnitude of the destruction this time will be much worse, adding that given the increased need, their duties could change at a moment’s notice.
“I’m, you know, from a big family, so you got to treat them like family and step up and help them where you can,” Pat Loney said.
The couple will leave for Orlando at 8 a.m. on Thursday. They’re expected to arrive Saturday morning.