LOCAL NEWS

Red Cross CEO from Utah will deploy to Florida where she worked before

Sep 30, 2022, 7:04 PM | Updated: Oct 12, 2022, 5:55 pm

MURRAY, Utah — Red Cross volunteers from Utah are already helping in Florida, and more are on their way. The regional Red Cross CEO, based in Salt Lake City, will head there Saturday, and she already knows the area which suffered the most severe damage.

“Right now, it’s still a life-saving operation. It’s still sheltering and feeding,” said Heidi Ruster, regional CEO for the Utah/Nevada Red Cross.

Ruster held that same position for eight years in the Fort Myers area before coming here, and had responsibilities in five Florida counties. On Saturday, she will deploy to that area, eager to help, but with mixed emotions.

“I’m excited, but I’m also apprehensive just to see the damage,” she said.

Ruster typically deploys a couple times a year in support of other Red Cross leaders. Last year, she deployed to California to assist on one of the largest wildfires. Recovery in Florida is just getting started.

“It’s a dynamic situation,” she said. “That’s how disaster response is, so we play it day by day. But I know my job is to collaborate, strengthen relationships, and make sure we are fulfilling the gaps and the needs of the community.”

Her prior relationships in Fort Myers and the surrounding area make her an especially valuable team member. But she also knows the destruction will be difficult to witness.

“It was my home for eight years, and my kids all graduated high school there. So personally, it’s a little gut-wrenching,” she said.

Bonnie and Dave Kenison, Red Cross volunteers from Orem, were working at an evacuation shelter in an elementary school in Crescent City, Florida, when the hurricane blew through.

“We’re just happy to be here and help where we can,” Bonnie said in a video call. “For us, it was a little windy and a lot of hard rain, and the power went on and off several times.”

Dave went out in the middle of the night during the storm to get some supplies from a trailer.

“The wind was blowing pretty hard at that point,” he said. “They were estimating only 40 to 50 mph that reached in our area, so not near hurricane force.”

The Kenisons have now moved on to a long-term shelter in Sebring where they will support evacuees and the National Guard, which has arrived. While they were making the transition, they drove through the Orlando area.

“We saw a lot of the issues that have been caused by the flooding there,” Dave said. “Still lots of power out, lots of stoplights not working through that whole area.”

But the sun was out Friday, and the people in that part of central Florida dodged the worst of Ian.

“I think the people are feeling pretty good here. They feared that it was going to be much worse,” he said.

Generous financial donations are the best way Utahns can help. Ruster said that’s what provides the Red Cross the necessary resources. It’s easy to give at redcross.org.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

...
Lauren Steinbrecher

Lehi mom stranded in snowstorm grateful for help from unexpected stranger

Two Utah County women are sharing how a desperate situation during Monday's snowstorm turned into a heartwarming story they'll never forget.
16 hours ago
Some residents of an Orem student apartment complex ran for their lives after shots were fired on t...
Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Man accused of shooting at Orem apartment complex surrenders

A Utah man accused of shooting people at an Orem apartment complex in a confrontation caught on video has surrendered to police.
16 hours ago
(Karah Brackin/KSL TV)...
Karah Brackin

U of U working to get victims help after two cameras found in Student Life Center

The University of Utah and its department of public safety said Thursday they are focusing on victims and getting them the help they need to move forward after two cameras were found in the Student Life Center.
16 hours ago
Apartments and townhouses on Traverse Mountain Boulevard in Lehi are pictured on Wednesday, Aug. 11...
Carter Williams, KSL.com

Utah experiences largest population spike in 16 years. Here’s where people are moving

Utah's population skyrocketed by a little more than 61,000 people between July 2021 and July 2022, marking the state's largest spike in absolute growth in 16 years, according to a new population estimate report released Thursday.
16 hours ago
(FILE) Salt Lake City Police car responding to a scene....
Madison Swenson

Police: Man arrested for burglarizing two SLC businesses

A 44-year-old man has been arrested after police say he burglarized two businesses in downtown Salt Lake City, including an office space belonging to the Utah Attorney General's Office.
16 hours ago
FILE: A UTANG KC-135, modified with Real-Time Information in the Cockpit and gateway technologies, ...
Josh Ellis

Utah Air Nat’l Guard airman dies during routine deployment in Guam

A Utah airman assigned to the 151st Air Refueling Wing died Tuesday after suffering a medical emergency in Guam.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Red Cross CEO from Utah will deploy to Florida where she worked before