Helping People Impacted By Tornadoes, Floods, Wildfires

Doris Baker and Tiffany Stuhr
...we’re going to get through it because we have each other, we have our community and we have the Red Cross.

American Red Cross disaster workers areresponding to devastating tornadoes which continue to affect people in the Midwest as well as flooding and wildfires in several regions of the country.

After another series of large tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma Friday. The Red Cross expanded its relief effort to help people impacted by these new storms. Tornadoes and flooding also caused damage in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and South Carolina and Red Cross workers opened shelters and are working with local and state officials on additional help.

Red Cross disaster workers are also responding to a wildfire in Los Angeles County, California, which has burned more than 22,000 acres and forced more than 7,000 people to leave their neighborhoods as well as camps in the area. More than 150 residents registered at the Red Cross shelter where workers are providing food, water and relief supplies to people who fled the area impacted by the fire.

NEW TORNADOES More than 1,100 Red Cross disaster workers are providing shelter, meals, relief supplies and emotional comfort to people impacted by tornadoes that have hit Oklahoma over the past two weeks. More than 300 people spent Sunday night in shelters in Oklahoma.

Oklahoman Sha Marie Huff thought it couldn’t get worse after the tornadoes two weeks ago, but Friday’s tornadoes caused more destruction and severe flooding at her home in El Reno.

Most of her furniture and personal belongings now sit water-logged in Huff’s front yard. While cleaning out her home, Huff and her son, Lane, looked up and saw a glimpse of hope when a Red Cross mobile feeding truck pulled up in front of their home. They were both surprised to find out that the three volunteers inside the truck traveled all the way from Louisiana to make sure that their family and neighbors had hot meals to eat until they got back on their feet.

“Any bit of help is needed right now,” Huff said as she thanked Red Cross workers. “This is bad, but we’re going to get through it because we have each other, we have our community and we have the Red Cross.”

IT’S WHAT WE DO Mike Puryear, a Southern Baptist Convention volunteer working with the Red Cross, spent his June 2 birthday away from his Tennessee home preparing hot meals and snacks for the victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes.

The Southern Baptist Convention partners with the Red Cross, preparing meals in mobile kitchens for the Red Cross to distribute to people impacted by major disasters. In Oklahoma, more than 238,000 meals and snacks have been distributed to victims of the tornadoes.

“I don’t mind being away on my birthday because this is what I need to be doing right now and my family knows that,” said Puryear. “This is how I can make a difference.”

He joined hundreds of other Southern Baptist and Red Cross volunteers to make sure that Oklahomans had hot meals and snacks to eat as they picked up the pieces of what was left of their homes and communities. 

Puryear is a long-time Southern Baptist volunteer and has worked on several large disaster relief operations alongside the Red Cross. While in Oklahoma, his main role is to help cook thousands of meals each day at one of the joint Red Cross and Southern Baptist kitchens. 

“We’re working with the Red Cross to serve the community because that’s what we do and that’s who we are,” said Puryear.

LARGE RED CROSS RESPONSE The Red Cross response in Oklahoma is helping people in multiple communities. So far the Red Cross has:

  • Deployed more than 1,100 Red Cross disaster workers to provide shelter, meals and supplies throughout the affected communities in Oklahoma.
  • Served more than 238,000 meals and snacks
  • Distributed more than 37,000 relief items
  • Provided more than 11,400 health services and mental health contacts
  • This weekend’s severe weather follows hard on the heels of several very busy months for the Red Cross responding to tornadoes and floods in 16 states. The Red Cross opened shelters, served meals, provided emotional support and handed out relief supplies to people after tornadoes struck in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. In addition, we helped people recover from devastating floods in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee and Texas.

  • In response to these disasters, the Red Cross deployed 4,800 trained workers who served 594,000 meals and snacks, and handed out 185,000 relief items such as hygiene items, cleaning supplies, shovels, rakes, gloves and trash bags.
  • Red Cross workers opened more than 100 shelters and provided thousands of overnight stays in addition to more than 22,000 health and mental health contacts.
  • HOW TO HELP You can help people affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and other crises by making a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. You can donate by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

    Related