When Hurricane Ian made landfall in late September as a category 4 hurricane, Florida residents were devastated by the ferocity of the storm. Millions of people were without water, power, gas, or life-sustaining supplies. Fort Myers, one of the first cities hit by the storm, was also one of the hardest hit cities in the state.
While many people evacuated the state, thousands, if not millions, were trapped after being unable to leave in time. These people were friends and neighbors that needed help. And our Florida staff members were unwilling to leave them to the mercies of the storm.
Answering the Call
With thousands of people in the Ft. Myers area needing assistance, several of our attorneys stepped up to support their community. These brave individuals stayed in Florida, despite the danger so that they could get supplies to storm victims most in need.
The disaster response team (DRT) started with attorneys Blake J. Lange and Tanner Lakey. Before the storm hit, they secured an RV and a rental home in Cape Coral. This home was filled with critical supplies like:
- Food and water
- Baby diapers and wipes
- Baby formula
- Toothpaste and toothbrushes
- Toilet paper and paper towels
- Clothing, including socks and underwear
- Pet food
- Generators and extension cords
Many of these supplies were donated by Morgan and Morgan employees who didn’t feel safe staying in Florida but wanted to help.
This rental home was used as the main headquarters of the DRT for the roughly two weeks that it was active. Storm victims who could make it to this location were welcome to take supplies, get a shower, or get some shut-eye.
The Challenges of Disaster Relief
Even with all the planning that went into providing disaster relief, the storm made it a severe challenge. Since hotels in the Fort Myers area were either sold out or had no power, many of our volunteers had to stay in Sarasota each night and drive almost two hours to get to Ft. Myers each day, bringing as many supplies with them as they could.
With two distribution locations (Ft. Myers and Cape Coral), supplies were extremely tight. Long lines of cars waited for hours at both sites, and they often ran out of supplies by midday at the latest. Our volunteers did their best to direct the people who arrived too late to other resources.
In that first week, our volunteers were gathering new supplies every night to try to keep up with the demand. They might not have been able to keep up if not for the help of the First Christian Church Cape Coral.
The Final Days
The DRT continued to help out victims of the storm until October 11th. For most of those roughly two weeks, the worst-hit areas were still without power. However, the Tampa area was mostly recovered. And the Morgan and Morgan staff in that area had donated an entire conference room of supplies.
DRT volunteers drove three tucks to Tampa and filled them to the brim with those supplies before returning to Fort Myers. These supplies helped hundreds of people and families on the final day of the disaster relief effort.
The final act of these volunteers was to provide 90 blankets to the dozens of linemen working endlessly to restore power to Ft. Myers. These workers were sleeping on the floor between shifts just to work as quickly as possible.
Morgan and Morgan Is Proud of These Volunteers
A category 4 hurricane is one of the most dangerous natural disasters. Most people who have the resources to do so would get as far away from this disaster as possible.
Despite this, dozens of Morgan and Morgan employees chose to stay in Florida and brave the storm for the sole purpose of helping those who weren’t as well off as them. They had the resources and opportunity to leave, but they didn’t.
At Morgan and Morgan, we are proud of every one of the volunteers that willingly chose to join the Hurricane Ian disaster response team. These individuals spent their own resources and risked their well-being to help others.
We are also proud of all the employees that, even if they couldn’t donate their time and efforts, donated thousands of dollars of supplies. Without these donations, hundreds of people in Fort Myers and Cape Coral might not have survived the aftermath of the storm.
If another disaster strikes Florida, we are confident that Morgan and Morgan's attorneys will step up and support their community again.