"This is the real deal": Nebraska students heading to Florida for Hurricane Ian relief
By Tanner Dykstra
Sept. 30, 2022, 6 p.m. ·
A group of Union College students and alumni are heading to Florida to help in recovery efforts following the landfall of Hurricane Ian, which struck the sate Wednesday as a Category 4 storm. In a briefing Friday morning, the Florida Division of Emergency Management confirmed one death related to the storm and 20 others that could also be a result of the hurricane.
The team from Union College in Lincoln is scheduled to leave Sunday morning and spend a week in Fort Meyers, Florida, where they will help clean out damaged homes, remove downed trees, and place tarps on roofs to prevent additional water damage.
Union College’s International Rescue and Relief program, or IRR, is trained in all kinds of emergency response. Senior Adam Anderson has been on disaster relief missions before and said this real-world experience is crucial to the program.
“One of the biggest differences that I’ll pick up from Florida is that this isn’t training anymore, he said. "This is the real deal. We’re actually helping these people, this is a natural disaster response."
The team will be in Florida for 6 days clearing debris and using tarps to cover exposed buildings. Andrew Saunders is the IRR program director. He said it’s important for emergency responders to appreciate the resilience of the victims.
“It’s so easy to come into with a savior complex and be like, I’m the one with the training and the experience and the tools, but what we’re really there to do is help people. It’s amazing to work with people and see how resilient they are in the face of adversity,” he said.