PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Hurricane Ian’s impacts continue to be felt across Florida.
“Families have lost everything,” said Cathy Timuta, CEO of the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions.
The need for supplies grows every day for the hardest-hit communities. Families with infants are in an especially difficult situation. Baby products are in short supply, and the need is dire.
“It’s not like some people can just easily drive to the grocery store. They don’t have vehicles now. Their vehicles were destroyed. It’s definitely very hard right now,” said Melanie Black, Associate Executive Director of Healthy Start Coalition of Southwest Florida.
Healthy Start Coalition is working hard to facilitate collecting supplies and distributing them to the communities that need them.
They’re asking for items like:
- Baby bottles with disposable liners
- Pack and plays
- Pre-mixed baby formula
The need for pre-mixed baby formula is urgent.
“We have families that don’t have access to clean water and may be tempted to use the water and babies are particularly vulnerable,” said Timuta.
“That mixed with power outages and people losing all of their food, women who were breastfeeding lost all of their breast milk because of the power outages,” said Black.
If people are able to get to the grocery store, shelves are bare and baby products are nearly impossible to come by.
“When you have that feeling of, 'can I feed my baby right now?' That is such a heartbreaking component. I can’t even imagine for a day or a week that you don’t know where you’re going to get that food or what that’s going to look like for your baby,” said Black.
That’s why Healthy Start is now calling on other communities for help.
“We have set up some Amazon Wishlists so that donors can go directly there and select the items they would like to purchase,” said Timuta.
If you’d like to make a cash donation, you can learn more information here.
This article was written by Larissa Scott for WFTS.