HOW TO HELP
To make a Red Cross donation, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word DORIAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
As Hurricane Dorian strengthened to a major Category 3 storm Friday afternoon and Florida residents braced for the worst, Chattanooga-area companies and residents hundreds of miles away prepared to help in disaster-relief efforts.
EPB officials said Friday that five contractor crews have been sent to assist with any damage that may occur from Dorian in Florida. Three of the crews have already arrived in Tampa, Florida, and the other two crews are being sent to Central Florida to the Lake City, Florida area.
"We are also keeping a close eye on the storm pattern and stand in readiness with our crews to address any issue that may arise for local customers," said J.Ed. Marston, vice president of marketing for EPB.
Life Care Centers of America in the Chattanooga region sent three buses and a box truck Friday to assist its facilities in Florida. The team will first arrive in Altamonte Springs in Central Florida and wait to be dispatched to the rest of the state where they are needed most.
Life Care has 26 locations throughout Florida, according to their website.
The buses were loaded up with supplies — from plywood to bottled water, food to power saws, according to the company.
"I packed clothes for five days," said Jeff Pullin, a bus driver and maintenance worker for Life Care who has assisted with evacuations during four hurricanes. "I'm not sure exactly when we'll be back. It's tough leaving your own families, but we've got to do what we've got to do. We're going to do everything that might be needed to get our residents out of harm's way."
McKamey Animal Center is also asking locals to complete a foster application and foster an animal for 10-14 days while the center prepares for hurricane evacuees.
"Our teams are ready to go and are planning for multiple trips to areas in the path of the storm," the shelter said in a Facebook post Friday.
The American Red Cross in the Tennessee Region is also preparing to help the thousands of people in the path of Hurricane Dorian. As of Friday morning, 15 volunteers had been deployed to help with shelters and emergency operations in Georgia and Florida, according to the organization.
Anyone who needs a safe place to go will be able to find information for open Red Cross shelters on their free Emergency App. Download the app by searching "American Red Cross" in the app store or by going to redcross.org/apps.
This is a developing story. Stay with the Times Free Press for updates.