Catholic Charities continues to help Florida hurricane victims



Catholic Charities volunteers from the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida load supplies into cars affected by Hurricane Ian on October 10, 2022. (CNS Photo by Katie Camario/ Gulf Coast Catholic)

FORT MYERS, Fla. (CNS) – Lizvelle Rivera vividly remembers how Hurricane Ian passed on his home in Fort Myers.

“It was really scary,” she said. “I heard crazy noises. You hear each shingle coming loose; every tree fell. Looks like a bunch of people are running on your roof. But no, it’s because everything is flying away.

The storm passed just over Rivera’s home, located a few miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. After the storm passed, she emerged from her shelter-in-place and saw the impact of the storm.

“Our neighborhood is completely destroyed,” she said. “I lost my roof.

Rivera said she also lost her job, which was located on Fort Myers Beach, where many structures have been destroyed and nearly all are unsafe to enter.

Catholic charities set up emergency supply distribution sites

She is one of thousands of people helped by Catholic charities Diocese of Venicewhich has set up several drive-through emergency supply distribution sites in the affected areas.

Michael Vega, the agency’s program manager, said the need is so great that there is a line of cars waiting to pass through the distribution site before they open each day.

“We have been hit very hard, there are a lot of homes that have been lost, lives have been lost and a number of people have lost their livelihoods,” he said. “It’s non-stop. As soon as the supplies come here, they go straight out, there is someone waiting for them,” he told Gulf Coast Catholic media outlet of the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice made an urgent request for assistance

Vega said Catholic Charities began responding to the needs of those affected immediately, which bared their panties of stored food.

The agency made an urgent request for supplies and assistance to several organizations, including Catholic Charities Diocese of Saint Petersburg. They started an emergency campaign and within a week they had enough items to fill a box truck, a van and a van.

“We had no idea the magnitude of the response from the supply campaign and the supplies keep coming in. We are so grateful for such an abundance of generosity from members of our community,” said Maggie Rogers, executive director of Catholic Charities. Diocese of Saint Petersburg.

The supplies were transported Oct. 11 to Vega and his team for immediate distribution.

Residents still without electricity or drinking water

Rogers said at the time that the area was still without power, and teams of staff from Catholic charities planned to deliver a truckload of supplies every week for as long as needed.

“People here are very grateful that the St. Petersburg Diocese stepped up and helped us tremendously,” Vega said, adding that the agency not only brought in supplies but also volunteers to help.

Rivera, who was still without electricity or running water at her home, was especially grateful.

“I came here and now I have cleaning supplies. I received tarps. I received ice cream. I received a hot meal and a cold meal. I really appreciate that,” she said. “Thank you, Catholic Works. »

To donate to the hurricane relief effort with Catholic Charities USA, please visit

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Camario writes for the Gulf Coast Catholic, media of the diocese of Saint Petersburg.

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