Iowa companies send help to victims of Hurricane Ian in southwest Florida

Hurricane Ian's 150 mph winds ripped through the coastline of southwest Florida this week, leaving a trail of devastation. The category 4 hurricane is believed to be one of the strongest to ever hit the mainland of the United States.

Despite being more than 1,000 miles away, Iowa companies have offered their support to victims and first-responders in areas most affected.

More:'Herculean effort' underway to rescue Floridians, DeSantis says; Ian targets South Carolina: Live updates

Here is a list of Iowa companies sending disaster relief to those affected by Hurricane Ian:

Hy-Vee sends two disaster relief caravans

Hy-Vee is deploying two caravans to Port Charlotte and Bradenton, Florida, both areas affected by Hurricane Ian. The first caravan left Friday morning from the Hy-Vee Fresh Commissary in Ankeny, and includes Hy-Vee's mobile command center, a mobile water system, and a rapid response pickup truck, according to Hy-Vee spokesperson Tina Potthoff. The second caravan, scheduled to leave Saturday morning from Hy-Vee's Chariton Distribution Center, will include nine semi-trucks filled with water, ice, food, cleaning supplies and protein donated by Hormel Foods, according to Potthoff.

Potthoff said Hy-Vee's disaster response is being coordinated with local emergency operation centers and nonprofits.

Agriland offers energy and generator support

Winterset-based Agriland, a member-owned agronomy and energy company, is sending supplies to Florida to assist in energy and generator support for victims and first-responders in the wake of Hurricane Ian. On Wednesday, the company deployed 14 employees and a fleet of tanks, tank wagons, fuel equipment, fuel delivery, pickup trucks and generators heading to Arcadia, Florida, to assist in recovery efforts, according to the company's energy sales manager Ross Knobloch.

The equipment will help fill generators running critical infrastructure, including hotels housing first-responders, senior care facilities and hospitals, Knobloch said. The company is also working to provide generator support to local emergency medical services camps on the ground, he said.

While based in Iowa, Agriland's efforts are drawing in volunteers and equipment from across the United States, including from Nebraska and Colorado, according to Knobloch.

"One of the reasons why we are able to respond with such a strong response is that we have a fairly broad footprint," he said.

With volunteers already on the way, Knobloch said a new fleet is preparing to head out soon. In total, Knobloch said the company expects to send around 14 delivery trucks and 10 fuel trailers with the support of nearly 40 employee volunteers.

25 Iowans from the American Red Cross head southeast to help in recovery efforts

Iowans from the Nebraska-Iowa region of the American Red Cross are already in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia to help with Hurricane Ian recovery efforts. Spokesperson Emily Holley said the 25 volunteers left starting Sunday and have been working "around the clock" to provide shelter and food to people affected.

As of Wednesday, Holley said the American Red Cross had sheltered more than 33,000 people across Florida.

Volunteers are also going out in emergency response vehicles to distribute supplies to those affected, Holley said. Most of the volunteers from Iowa are working in the shelters to provide people basic necessities, which Holley said is currently one of the largest needs people are showing after the storm.

"This could be one of the largest natural disasters ever to hit Florida," Holley said. "We want to make sure folks are comfortable. We want to make it as much their home away from home until more permanent solutions are found for them."

Holley said it is possible more volunteers from Iowa will deploy to affected areas in the coming days as the storm continues to ravage the Southeast.

LifeServe Blood Center sends blood to areas in need

LifeServe Blood Center has had its headquarters at 431 E. Locust St. in Des Moines' East Village since the early 2000s.
LifeServe Blood Center has had its headquarters at 431 E. Locust St. in Des Moines' East Village since the early 2000s.

LifeServe Blood Center, headquartered in Des Moines, sent blood products, including red cells and platelets, to Florida ahead of Ian's landfall. Blood supplies in affected areas are already at worrying lows due to the number of people who evacuated and a generally low blood donor turnout, the company said in a statement on its website.

To be able to continue to provide these life-saving supplies to those suffering from the destruction of the storm, the center is calling on Iowans to donate blood that will be sent to areas across the country with the most need.

"It is important for Americans to donate blood to ensure continuity of the blood supply in areas that may be impacted by Hurricane Ian. Any shortage of blood could impact the health needs of patients in these areas," the company's statement read.

To schedule appointments to donate blood in one of LifeServe Blood Center's 10 locations across Iowa, call 800-287-4903 or visit

Wells Fargo Foundation donates $1 million

Wells Fargo, the largest private employer in the Des Moines metro area, donated $1 million to hurricane relief efforts in Florida. The contribution from the Wells Fargo Foundation will support four organizations with $250,000 grants.

  • The American Red Cross will use the money to provide food, shelter and relief supplies to people impacted by Hurricane Ian.

  • Feeding Florida food banks will use the money to provide water, food and resources to Florida residents impacted by Hurricane Ian.

  • The Florida Housing Coalition will provide funding for "urgent housing needs and repairs," according to a news release.

  • Volunteer Florida will "assist Florida’s communities as they respond to and recover from this natural disaster," according to a news release.

"Wells Fargo is here with you in the days and months ahead as communities rebuild," said Wells Fargo Foundation President Otis Rolley in a news release. "We are grateful for the local nonprofits that families rely on to help rebuild their homes and lives during these incredibly difficult times. We hope our donation expands their capacity to reach those who need it most.”

Other Iowa companies sending disaster relief to those affected by Hurricane Ian:

  • Casey's General Store is encouraging employees at the corporate headquarters in Ankeny to donate blood to their local LifeServe Blood Center to support Florida-based blood donation centers and hospitals that treat victims of the hurricane, according to company spokesperson Kendrew Panyanouvong.

  • Employees at Willie Ray's Q Shack in Cedar Rapids are planning to head to southwest Florida to help feed victims of Hurricane Ian, according to the restaurant's Facebook page. The barbecue restaurant is sending six staff members, food and grills to help feed those affected by the hurricane. The crew will drive out of Cedar Rapids on Friday, Oct. 7, according to restaurant owner Willie Ray Fairley. According to Fairley, this is not the first time the restaurant has stepped up to help victims across the country in times of need. He said volunteers from the restaurant have helped out during and after the tornadoes and floods in Kentucky in August, the winter storm in Texas in February, and Hurricane Ida in Louisiana last August. Once they arrive in Florida, Fairley said the team will "hit the ground running."

Information from USA Today was used in this article.

Francesca Block is a breaking news reporter at the Des Moines Register. Reach her at or on Twitter at @francescablock3.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowans, companies send help to Florida after Hurricane Ian destruction