MT. ZION, Ill. (WCIA) – Dean Otta is one of hundreds of Red Cross volunteers across the country that are ready to face Hurricane Ian, and he’s from right here in Central Illinois.

As soon as airports open up, Otta will fly to Florida. He’s been following natural disasters like Hurricane Ian for over a decade.

Before he joined the Red Cross, Otta was a volunteer firefighter for the South Macon Fire Department. He said that experience helped prepare him for the dangers of hurricanes, floods and wildfires across the country.

When I asked why he chooses to volunteer, his answer was simple – he just likes helping others. He said he’s “always waiting for a disaster,” and keeps a suitcase packed with several weeks of clothes in case of an emergency like this.

“Sometimes you’ll see some people in distress. There’s some things you can’t do, but if you just listen to them and talk it out, you’ve done part of your job right there,” Otta said.

He expects to fly to Florida this weekend. When he gets there, he said he’ll be driving a truck of supplies to Red Cross facilities along the coast.

Otta said he’s never regretted volunteering in dangerous situations, and that the Red Cross could always use more help. If you’d like to volunteer, you can find more information on their website.