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Red Cross Responds as Tornadoes Hit Oklahoma

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Spring is here and so is the threat of severe weather.

The American Red Cross is helping people in Oklahoma after tornadoes touched down in as many as six counties, destroying homes and leaving thousands without power.

Hardest hit is Sand Springs, located west of Tulsa. Official reports indicate several tornadoes hit the area, destroying or damaging as many as 50 homes. Tornado activity was also reported in Moore, site of the devastating 2013 tornado outbreak. More than 20,000 people are still without power in the region.

Red Cross workers opened a shelter in Sand Springs where as many as 40 people spent Wednesday night. The Red Cross is working with partner organizations and will be out in Moore and Sand Springs today, distributing meals, snacks and drinks, relief items and helping assess the damage. The Red Cross is working with state and local officials to ensure assistance is available to those in need.

PILLOWCASE PROJECT The Red Cross recently visited several schools in the area to teach kids about being prepared through the Pillowcase Project. The training focuses on teaching children in grades 3 to 5 about personal and family preparedness, local hazards and basic coping skills. Students receive a pillowcase at the end of the program in which they are encouraged to build their personal emergency supplies kit. That training proved valuable according to testimonials submitted to Red Cross social media sites overnight:

“While we were in the shelter today my daughter was quoting things she learned from you guys yesterday. She was calm, a big difference from last year. What you do makes a difference. Thank you.”

“Thank u. Today we had a tornado in our town and a couple days ago u came to my son's school and gave him the pillow case full of important things. He took this with him in the shelter today and was more prepared then I was. Thank u.”

“Thank you so much for coming to Winding Creek Elementary in Moore and preparing our students for emergencies! We are heartbroken again for our community and can't thank you enough for helping our kiddos! I'm hearing wonderful stories about how our students stayed calm and followed the procedures they learned from Jennifer this week at school. I appreciate you so much! Moore kids were prepared with their pillow cases provided by you all!” Paula Gifford, Principal


The Red Cross wants everyone to know what steps they can take to remain safe if severe spring weather threatens. You can watch this severe weather slide show to learn about bad weather safety.

Here are steps you should follow:

TORNADOES Tornadoes can strike without warning. They are more common in the Plains region, but have been reported in every state. Download the Red Cross Tornado App now to have features on your mobile device like a siren and tornado warning alert when a tornado warning is issued. Information about what to do before, during and after a tornado is available on our web site. Here are some things you should do now in case a tornado threatens your area:

  • Know your community’s warning system.
  • Pick a place where family members can gather. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.
  • If you are in a high-rise building and don’t have enough time to go to the lowest floor, pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.
  • Remove diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
  • THUNDERSTORMS are possible throughout the mid-Atlantic region today. Although they can occur at any time of the year, thunderstorms happen more often in the spring and summer. Information about thunderstorm safety is available on this site. Here are some thunderstorm safety steps you should follow:

  • If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
  • As the storm approaches, take shelter in a building.
  • If you are driving, pull off the roadway and park. Stay in the car with the windows closed and turn on the emergency flashers. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside of the vehicle.
  • If you are inside, unplug appliances and avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
  • If you are caught outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground, water, tall, isolated trees and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are not safe.
  • HOW TO HELP You can help people affected by disasters like tornadoes and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

    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 or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.