After Hurricane Ian pummeled Florida and traveled up the coast, the devastation left in its wake was intimately felt by numerous “American Idol” stars, from those forced to cancel events to others who are from Florida and still assessing the damage with their families. Here are the details on how the catastrophic storm is affecting the “Idol” cast and alumni.
Past Finalists Hail from Hardest Hit Areas
As rescue efforts continue, initial assessments show that Lee Country was the hardest hit. Liston Bochette, Fort Myers mayor pro tempore and city council member, told CNN that the hurricane “shredded the community.” Large parts of the city have no electricity, no clean water, and the computers that run the sewer systems are down.
Midday on September 29, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno tweeted aerial footage of the damage, writing, “We are devastated.”
Teen rocker Casey Bishop, who placed fourth during Season 20, happened to release her first album on the same day Hurricane Ian struck Florida. Her hometown of Estero is in Lee County, the hardest hit area.
Bishop shared many supporters’ posts and comments about the album throughout the day on September 28, but also posted a video of whipping winds blowing the trees and windchimes in a backyard, with someone exclaiming “oh, sh**!” At the time of publication, she had not shared anything further on the impact of the storm in her community.
Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon, who took third place during season 4, grew up in Fort Myers and still has many friends and relatives in the area. She updated fans via her Instagram Stories, asking for prayers for her hometown. In one Story, she wrote, “I’ve heard from most of my family that they are safe, thanks everyone for your prayers calls and text msgs. Hurricane Ian is still moving towards northern Florida. The storm surge is CRAZY!”
Meanwhile, Naples native Paige Miles, who placed 11th during season 9 and still makes her living singing, has not updated her Instagram or Twitter feeds in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Luke Bryan, David Cook Cancel Concerts
Before Hurricane Ian even reached the U.S., “Idol” judge Luke Bryan’s team knew the damage would likely be too extensive for it to be safe to hold large concerts in the state.
According to Country Now, Luke has rescheduled three Florida concerts. He will no longer perform in Estero, Florida on September 29, West Palm Beach on September 30, or Tampa on October 1. The shows have now been rescheduled for the first week of November, and those who can’t attend will be given full refunds.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of the storm moving up the coast, season 7 winner David Cook has canceled shows in Black Mountain, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina. Instead, he’s going to hold a live stream benefit concert via Mandolin on October 1 at 6pm Eastern. All ticket sales will go to the Americares Foundation Hurricane Ian Relief Fund.
Here’s How You Can Help
In an Instagram post on September 29, the American Red Cross said 33,000 people had spent the night in hundreds of their shelters across the state of Florida. Many may not have a home to return to, given the damage from both winds and flooding. It’s also unknown how many people stayed in their homes and are stranded.
Over 700 of their trained disaster workers are ready to begin relief efforts, but the full extent of the damage is not yet known. Financial donations, which are the best way to help right now, can be made on the Red Cross website.
Meanwhile, GlobalGiving has established a Hurricane Ian Relief Fund, with a goal of raising $1 million to help first responders meet survivors’ immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter.
In addition, Paws Humane Society in Georgia has already rescued and taken in 39 animals from Florida, and has set up a specific donation area on their website to help them continue to save people’s pets.