Four days after Hurricane Irma ravaged Southwest Florida, scenes of recovery stand alongside calls for help. As President Donald Trump visits Fort Myers and Naples Thursday, 1.3 million Floridians remain without power, and community efforts are mobilizing to bring food and other necessities to those most in need.
Bill Orlove with Florida Power and Light also joins the show to share updates on the utility's efforts across Florida to restore power to the more than 4.4 million customers who lost power during the hurricane. As of Thursday, more than 3 million homes have seen power restored but 1.3 million outages remain.
Without power to cook, the Mercy Chefs are in Fort Myers, preparing hot meals with donated food for hungry residents. We'll share reporting from their cooking and delivering of meals Thursday morning.
As those hot meals go out to homes in the region, the Community Cooperative in Fort Myers is meeting needs at their food pantry and their mobile food pantry. Cooperative CEO Tracey Galloway joins Gulf Coast Live to provide updates on when and where that pantry will make stops and how people can donate time, money, and resources to those in need.
Another vital need in short supply in Southwest Florida after the hurricane: blood and blood products. The Suncoast Blood Bank and Sarasota Memorial Hospital are organizing a blood drive to meet that critical need, and we'll talk with COO Lorrie Liang, and Lisa Collins-Brown with the hospital's Emergency Care Center about how people in the region can donate to meet this critical needs for blood supplies strained by the storm.
And as the full toll of the storm continues to be assessed, Collier County Public Schools has delayed the return to school until at least Wednesday, Sept. 20. Superintendent Dr. Kamela Patton joins Gulf Coast Live to talk about what the district is weighing as it considers returning to class from Marco Island to Immokalee to Naples.