As Hurricane Ian heads toward The Sunshine State, the American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region urges people in Florida to listen to local authorities and evacuate immediately if asked to do so.

Now a Category 3 hurricane, Ian could grow to a Category 4 storm as it begins to impact millions of people in Florida. Tampa could suffer its first direct hit from a hurricane in over 100 years. The National Hurricane Center reports life-threatening storm surge is possible along much of Florida’s west coast, with the highest risk from Fort Myers to the Tampa Bay region. Significant river flooding is likely across central Florida.

Parts of Florida could see the effects of the storm as early as today with hurricane conditions hitting Florida’s west coast Wednesday into Thursday. Ian could also cause considerable flooding in Georgia and South Carolina later this week.

Red Cross volunteers working ahead of Hurricane Ian unload tractor trailers of supplies that will be heading to evacuation shelters in Florida. The supplies include cots, blankets, gloves, flashlights and clean-up kits. Photo by Marko Kokic/American Red Cross

RED CROSS RESPONSE The Red Cross has moved hundreds of trained volunteers from across the country and tens of thousands of relief supplies to Florida in preparation for Ian and is opening dozens of shelters to make sure people have a safe place to ride out the storm. We are working closely with our partners and local officials to ensure help is available when and where people need it most.

FIND A SHELTER It’s critical to listen to the advice of local authorities and evacuate immediately if asked to do so. We encourage safety and being out of harm’s way above all. Residents are quickly running out of time to leave. If you don’t plan to evacuate, have enough food and water for at least three days — it will be difficult for emergency workers to get help to you when weather conditions worsen.

You can find information for open Red Cross shelters on, the free Red Cross Emergency app or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Download the app by searching “American Red Cross” in your app store or by going to

You can also find shelters at, follow your local county and city officials on social media or monitor local news for information on where to find emergency shelter. To help keep everybody safe, everyone in Red Cross emergency shelters is required to wear face coverings.

We help anyone in need after a disaster, and everyone is welcome in our shelters. All disaster assistance is free and we don’t require people to show any kind of identification to enter a shelter — just their name and where they were living before the disaster.

We encourage people who plan to stay in a Red Cross shelter to bring prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, other comfort items and important documents. Don’t forget to bring any special items for children, such as diapers, formula and toys, or for family members who have unique needs.

Our workers will do all they can to accommodate service animals and domesticated pets comfortably. If you go to a shelter, please bring your own animal crate, supplies, medications and food whenever possible. Depending on the situation, pets may need to be housed in a different location with support from animal welfare groups. If you are headed to an evacuation shelter, bring at least a 3-day supply of blankets, pillows and supplies such as food and water, medicines, infant needs, etc., for everyone in your group.

YOU CAN HELP people affected by disasters like storms and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift is a commitment to helping people in need, and every single donation matters. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit, call 800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation today.

For those interested in helping people specifically affected by this hurricane, we ask that they write “Hurricane Ian” in the memo line of a check and mail it to their local Red Cross chapter with a completed donation form to the address on the form or to their local Red Cross chapter. Find the donation form at

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossTXGC, Facebook at RedCrossTXGC and Instagram at txgulfcoastredcross.