Five months have passed since May storms and tornadoes. The American Red Cross and partners are thrilled to officially opened the long-term recovery center in El Reno.
The small town west of Oklahoma City was hit hard May 31 by the reportedly widest tornado in history.
The Red Cross and its partners immediately started providing relief services within hours of the storm’s passing. Now, case managers are working with clients like Susan Sayre to help them get back to where they were before the storm.
“I was in my home with my autistic son when the sky started to turn black,” Sayre said. “I thought, ‘Oh My Goodness’ and we took shelter in an interior room.”
Hail stones the size of grapefruits pummeled her home and damaged her roof as the storm progressed.
“We applied with FEMA and were denied,” she said.
Faced with a $7,500 roof repair and only $3,400 in insurance assistance, Sayre didn’t know how to move forward or where to turn for help. She happened to see a clip in the paper about disaster assistance and called to see what help was available.
“I knew the Red Cross were helpers,” she said. “So, I called in and talked with a case manager named Sharon with the Red Cross.”
After determining her need, Sayre was able to get assistance from Red Cross partner, Catholic Charities.
“Sharon was fantastic. She never once made me feel like I was low for asking for help,” she said. “Thank you, Jesus, for the Red Cross.”
With the Red Cross providing a majority of the funding for recovery activities in the recovery centers and working with partners, it is able to connect clients like Sayre to the resources available to help on the road to recovery. The recovery process will take time and the Red Cross, along with partner agencies, is committed to being there along each step of the way.
Long-term case management is currently underway from offices in El Reno, Moore and Shawnee, averaging 60 calls a day for those across Oklahoma needing disaster related assistance.
The Red Cross is also working on recovery projects in affected communities. Projects already completed include water well repair in Steelman Estates, gift cards for teachers in El Reno, Mid-Del and Moore schools, and replacing the sound system at Highland East Junior High School.