How to Help with Hurricane Idalia Recovery

Julie H. Case

Want to join Team Rubicon Greyshirts in Florida serving survivors of the Gulf Coast’s first hurricane of 2023? Here’s how.

When the eye of Hurricane Idalia made landfall near Keaton Beach around 7:45 a.m. EDT on August 30 it brought with it massive flooding, 125-mph-winds, and devastating losses across the state. Storm surges as high as 8-feet swamped Cedar Key, while 5-foot surges caused near-record water levels in Tampa and St. Petersburg. Across the northern part of the state, roads and houses were flooded and high winds downed branches and toppled trees, leaving thousands with uninhabitable or barely inhabitable homes. 

As Floridians begin surveying the wreckage, Team Rubicon is spinning up its first operation in response to Hurricane Idalia. Whether you’re a longtime Greyshirt or new to disaster relief work, here’s to volunteer to help Hurricane Idalia survivors in Florida. Plus, answers to some burning questions on what to expect when you sign up to volunteer for disaster relief work with Team Rubicon.

For Greyshirts Who Want to Help with Hurricane Idalia Relief

Register Your Availability Now 

Already a registered Greyshirt? Pack your Go Bag, it’s time to serve Hurricane Idalia survivors in Florida. Just register your availability Hurricane Idalia relief operations. Local responders began deploying on September 1; flight waves commence on Monday, September 4 and are set to continue every Monday through early October. 

For First-Time Volunteers Who Want to Help with Hurricane Idalia Relief

Become a Team Rubicon Greyshirt

The very first step in volunteering to help with any hurricane relief is to become a  Greyshirt. 

Step 1: Register to Volunteer

Click here to register using your email address and phone number. We’ll also want a street address so we know where to deploy you from. 

Step 2: Complete Your Deployment Profile

Once registered, you will receive an email with this link to create your deployment profile

Step 3: Complete Your Background Check

Team Rubicon’s background check policy is to ensure a safe operating environment for our team members and the communities we serve. Background checks typically take 15 days to complete, but due to the urgent need to serve hurricane survivors, Team Rubicon is expediting the process as much as possible. 

To complete your background check simply login to Roll Call, click on your name in the upper right hand corner of the page, then click on the status of your background check. 

Step 4: Complete TR101: Step Into the Grey 

While awaiting the results of your background check (the status will read “In-Process”) take 40 minutes to complete TR101, Step into the Grey, Team Rubicon’s introductory six-part training series. It covers the history of Team Rubicon, what to expect when you deploy, and more.

To enroll in TR101, click on your name in the upper right corner of Roll Call, then click on “take it” next to TR101. 

Step 5: Open that Text or Email and Register for an Operation

Once your profile is complete you will begin receiving texts and/or emails inviting you to deploy on operations. Simply click through to register your availability, then pack your Go Bag and prepare to deploy. 

FAQs for Those Stepping in to Serve Up Hurricane Idalia Relief

Do I Have To Be a Veteran to Volunteer for Hurricane Ian Relief with Team Rubicon?

No military experience is needed to become a Greyshirt. Team Rubicon may be a veteran-led organization, but anyone can serve. 

If I Volunteer to Help on Team Rubicon’s Hurricane Idalia Operations Where Will I Serve?

Currently, Team Rubicon is launching responses to Hurricane Idalia in Perry, FL, and evaluating other needs elsewhere in the state.

Do I Have To Be Vaccinated to Volunteer in Florida?

Yes. In order to deploy on any operation, volunteers must have at least two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

As you complete your profile in Roll Call, you’ll see several sections on the left menu bar that need your attention. One of those is your COVID-19 vaccine information. Please complete this information if you want to serve in Florida.   

If I Volunteer to Help with Hurricane Idalia Recovery in Florida, What Will I Do?  

Currently in Florida Greyshirts are removing vegetative and non-vegetative debris (think moving uprooted palm trees and all those above-ground pools that went airborne), assisting with expedient home repair, mucking out flooded homes, and helping tarp roofs. 

If you’re volunteering to help Hurricane Idalia victims, prepare to haul, drag, mop, muck, demolish, and remove debris. You’ll love it.    

If I Volunteer in Florida, Do I Need to Buy My Own Plane Ticket or Gas To Get to the Operation?  

No. 

Volunteers who live more than 450 miles from Team Rubicon’s Hurricane Ian operations in Florida will be deployed on flight waves, and Team Rubicon will provide the plane ticket. Do not buy your own airfare. Flights are either donated by an airline or purchased by our Mobilization Team. All you have to worry about on deployment day is your Go Bag.  

If you’re within driving distance of an operation, Team Rubicon will offset the cost of your mileage.  

Do I Need Health Insurance To Serve in Florida?  

Yes. Team Rubicon requires Greyshirts to carry health insurance before deploying for an operation of any kind (resettlement, mitigation, response, or recovery). Disaster response and prevention can be risky. The best way to protect yourself during an operation is to make sure you can access emergency healthcare when you need it. 

How Long Will I Serve? 

Currently, Team Rubicon is deploying volunteers to Florida for full-week stints through mid-October.

Before you sign up for an operation, make sure that you’re available for all of the days outlined—you’ll be given options of when to serve to choose from—so that we can plan our mobilization efforts as quickly as possible.

How Long Before I’ll Know if I’m Deploying on an Operation?  

While it may take a few days to determine if you fit into the next deployment wave, you will receive confirmation of your deployment at a minimum of 48 hours before your first listed day of availability.

I Registered to Volunteer for an Operation, Now What?

If you are registered for an operation and have future dates, stand by and wait for an email/text from Team Rubicon asking you to reconfirm. If you don’t get that before the first dates you registered for, please use the same registration link, go to your “Registration Page,” and update your availability for future dates of the operation. 

After you get, and respond to, a request to reconfirm for an operation it is 90% certain that you are going to get dispatched. If flying to the operation, it’s at this stage that the Mobilization team selects and adds flights to your registration in preparation for dispatch. This could take up to 72 hours depending on the source of the flights. If driving, the dispatch should come within 24 hrs of reconfirming you are available to deploy. 

I Require Special Accommodations, Am I Still Eligible to Deploy?

Due to the nature of disaster response, many of our operations take place in austere conditions. Right now in Florida, we don’t have a reliable source of electricity—much like the people we are serving. At this time, that prohibits us from deploying Greyshirts who require CPAP devices or refrigerated medications. It could also prevent us from accommodating special diets. When in doubt, read the details in the event descriptions before registering for an operation. We will keep that up-to-date regarding the current conditions related to electricity. You may also email serve@teamrubiconusa.org with any questions. If your accommodation is not addressed in the event description, we will reach out to the command team on the ground of the operation to see if they can accommodate your needs.

Moments after Greyshirts completed route clearance on a Florida road. Photo by Joel Morales.
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