Most new moms with a seven-week old baby are concerned about changing diapers and feeding times. But Jamie Harrelson of El Reno, OK, has far greater worries for her son, Logan and her family. A place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, a car to drive – the family lost all this and more when an EF-5 tornado tore through El Reno on May 31, 2013.
Three weeks later, Jamie, Logan and Jamie’s mother-in-law Cathy are visiting the Multi-Agency Resource Center in El Reno and loading up on supplies – diapers, water, personal hygiene items, gloves, rakes, shovels and much more.
They are also talking to the agencies that are here to help. They talked to American Red Cross caseworkers, to representatives from the United Way and Salvation Army. Their local insurance man is here and so is a Dell representative with an internet café that residents can use to reach out to family and friends and fill out insurance forms online. “Being able to come here and get what we need and talk to everyone who can help us, we can’t thank the Red Cross enough” says Cathy Harellson. “We love the Red Cross for doing this”
Five Multi Agency Resource Centers (MARCs) were opened to serve the thousands of people affected by the tornadoes of May 19, 20 and 31 in the Oklahoma City area. MARCs in Moore, Shawnee, Little Axe, El Reno and Carney brought together dozens of organizations under one roof to serve these families by providing resources, supplies and information, saving the families the time and trouble of going to many different locations to get help.
James Tittle, Regional Emergency Services Director of the Central and Western Oklahoma Region of the American Red Cross says that planning for the MARC is something the organizations involved have been doing for several years, working with the Oklahoma VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster)to put the plan into place. “It’s all about serving the families affected and making their road to recovery as smooth as possible” Tittle says. “By working together in the MARC, we not only help the families, but the organizations are helping each other deliver services quickly and efficiently. It’s the whole community coming together to respond the needs of our friends, families and neighbors”