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Virginia Beach woman among Red Cross volunteers deployed to assist in hurricane-stricken Florida

Providing physical, as well as emotional assistance to survivors of Hurricane Ian are important for volunteers, like Esther Wangler from Virginia Beach.

NORFOLK, Va. — Dozens of people are reportedly dead, after Hurricane Ian brought catastrophic damage in Florida. Emergency responders from Hampton Roads have been unrelenting in their efforts to help with the aftermath.

In addition to local rescuers with Virginia Task Force 2 (VATF-2) conducting search operations and assisting in Southwest Florida, 13News Now also found out an American Red Cross volunteer from Virginia Beach is providing aid.

A spokesman for American Red Cross of Virginia told 13News Now feeding and sheltering are the primary roles for volunteers, at this time. And the spokesman said that of the 15 Red Cross volunteers from Virginia sent to assist in Florida, one is from the coastal part of the Commonwealth.

That one is Esther Wangler, who lives in Virginia Beach. 

"Trying to restore some resilience," she said to 13News Now crews at the airport. 

Serving as a disaster & mental health volunteer, Wangler said she will provide psychological first aid and emotional support.

"To folks who have lost homes, lost pets, lost loved ones and jobs," said Wangler. "It's going to be a deep sense of helplessness, helplessness, underneath that is going to be some anger about loss. It's going to be a grief process and just totally being overwhelmed with 'What do I do next?' and 'How do I get my life back?'"

And Wangler described the 10-day assignment in Florida as a small sacrifice, "I'm not awesome, I'm just willing."

Also willing to answer the call, about 80 VATF-2 members. The urban search & rescue team, made up of first responders from Hampton Roads, is based in Virginia Beach.    

VATF-2 has spent multiple days in disaster-stricken Southwest Florida. The group, as well as FEMA have posted photos on Facebook of rescuers in Charlotte County, assisting with efforts on the water and on the ground.

It is not yet clear when members of VATF-2 will return to Hampton Roads. When 13News Now last spoke with them, they assured community members at home they are doing OK.

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