Northport mayor heads to Florida with donations for Ian victims

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Emily Benito

NORTHPORT – By now you’ve surely seen the pictures of the devastating damage Hurricane Ian doled out in Florida.

Thousands of families were left with little more than the clothes on their backs after the torrential rain and wind battered the area, and it could be years before everything is built back.

Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon remembers what that feels like, and as he does after every major disaster in the South, he’s driving donations from West Alabamians down to where they’re most needed.

“I’d like to see more pet supplies, hand tools, maybe tarps to cover a roof with, anything like that,” Herndon said Tuesday. “But you know, anything. Anything that you can get. We’re not taking any used clothing. We sort of just want to get the basics to them right now. Food, water, things to start the cleanup process.”

After years of helping communities after major disasters, Herndon said this hurricane is the worst he’s seen.

“I went to Panama City, Florida, a few years ago,” he said. “I’ve been to Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Riversleigh, Louisiana, after hurricanes. There’s been destruction but not the magnitude of this.”

Nearly a week later, progress is still painstakingly slow.

“There’s still about half a city without power,” Herndon said. “They just got their main roadway open. In fact, some of the off-ramps off the main road are still under water. I just was on the phone with them a few minutes ago. We’re going to be getting a final destination to drop off and I told him we’re bringing at least 10,000 to 12,000 bottles of water, bleach, toiletries food. The lady at the call center that I was talking to was very emotional that we would even be down there.”

Herndon collected enough donations to fill five trailers, and he and his fellow drivers took off Wednesday morning around 4 a.m.

If you missed Herndon’s call for donations, you can still help hurricane-stricken residents in Florida by making monetary donations to national organizations like the American Red Cross or by giving blood through the Red Cross or LifeSouth.

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