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Western New Yorkers among those helping Floridians pick up pieces after Hurricane Ian

The Western New York chapter of the American Red Cross has four people in Florida, while Eight Days of Hope has more than 150 Buffalonians helping out.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Marialana Buscaglia is originally from Tonawanda and just moved to Fort Myers two months ago. 

She doesn't just see how her Florida community has changed after a Category 4 hurricane ripped through, she also hears it. 

"Everyday, nonstop. What I'm hearing now: army helicopters, rescue helicopters, coast guard, sirens and chainsaws. That's what I'm hearing. it's kind of crazy," Buscaglia said. 

Buscaglia and her family hid in one of their apartment's closets during the storm. Thankfully, she says they don't have any damage, and their power was restored after a day. 

"To be honest with you, I feel very fortunate because there are people still scrambling for water and still do not have power or gas for their generators. Things like that," she said. 

Everyday life is still far from being normal, with most businesses still closed, grocery store shelves mostly empty, impassible roads, and a lot of street lights still out.  

"I've lived through the Blizzard of '77, the October storm, and this was like nothing I could have ever imagined," Buscaglia said. 

Andrew Loeb is one of four Western New Yorkers who is volunteering with the American Red Cross in Fort Myers.

"Meeting and talking with the people, it's very, very devastating," Loeb said. 

He's working at a shelter for the next two weeks providing a place to sleep, meals, and medications to more than 1,200 people who no longer have a home. 

Despite it all, they are choosing to be thankful for what they have versus what they don't. 

"One thing sort of opposite of the devastation is everyone is so grateful. Just in a couple of days, you see the faces and you become familiar with them, and there's a little bit of levity you need to get through the trying times," Loeb said. 

If you would like to help out everyone in Florida, the state has a relief fund here.

You can also donate to the Red Cross. 

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