North Texas organizations arrive in Florida to help with Hurricane Ian recovery efforts

Hundreds of North Texans are in Florida working to help with everything from shelter to power. 

500 employees and contractors with Oncor arrived in Florida Thursday after leaving North Texas early Tuesday morning. 

The recovery in Florida is beginning with power restored today for about a half million homes, but there are still another two million without power officials say. Hundreds of North Texans are now there to help. 

Oncor Spokeswoman Kerri Dunn says the massive damage from hurricane Ian will require an army of repair workers. 

"In Dallas, we expect to see outages from down trees," she said. "This will be compounded. We don't just have damaged roads. We have bridges that have collapsed. We have people on barrier islands by the water. They don't have access to those roads."

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Dunn says the North Texas crews left Tuesday and then waited until the storm passed before heading into the hardest hit areas in Florida Thursday.

"We know people will be hurting and struggling," she said. "We will do whatever we can to help them."

Oncor is sending crews as part of a mutual aid agreement with Florida.

"In return, they respond to us. When we had Labor Day storms, we accepted help from other Texas companies and nearby states," Dunn said.

Brian Murnahan says the Red Cross of North Texas has also mobilized to help Florida. 

"We have about 20 there running evacuation shelters, doing damage assessments and helping people take the first step toward recovery," he said.

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Florida hospitals have also asked the Red Cross to send blood. 

"We don't normally distribute blood to Florida," Murnahan said. "But because they are asking, the Red Cross nationwide has sent hundreds of units. North Texas alone has submitted 70 units of blood to Florida."

At its peak, there were more than two million customers statewide without power or cell phone service.

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"It is going to be an incredibly difficult and challenging restoration process," Dunn said.

The Red Cross of North Texas sheltered 33,000 people Wednesday night.