Six months after deadly tornadoes swept through Oklahoma, the American Red Cross is still there, helping individuals, families and communities as they struggle to rebuild.
“Thanks to the generosity of people all over this country, the Red Cross continues to support the people of Oklahoma as they work to recover from the devastating May tornadoes,” said Gail McGovern, president and chief executive officer for the Red Cross. “Six months later, signs of progress can be seen. Children are back in school and people who lost so much are slowly putting their lives back together.”
Long-term recovery centers are open in Moore, El Reno and Shawnee, Oklahoma. At these centers, the Red Cross is working with Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Oklahoma United Methodist Church to help those affected by the devastating May storms.
As part of the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project, Red Cross case managers are helping families with their individual recovery plans. While making sure they have access to community and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) resources, caseworkers also help with immediate needs such as groceries, clothing, lodging and other assistance.
One of those receiving Red Cross assistance was Shalan Pearson of Newalla, OK, whose home was destroyed by the tornadoes. “Part of my home was over in the pond,” she said. Her family received help getting back on their feet. “I needed medications for a back injury and visits to the doctor's office,” she said. “They provided me with the ability to get the medication. I was blown away. The Red Cross has come through for my family more than we ever expected.”
The Red Cross is also working with communities to help them return to normal. Working with partners, the Red Cross is identifying projects such as building safe rooms in homes, developing school preparedness programs and helping with repairs to buildings and infrastructure.
For example, the Red Cross provided financial assistance to more than 400 teachers in the Moore, Mid-Del and El Reno school districts to repair their classrooms in time for the new school year. History teacher Marty Young’s classroom was one of those damaged by the storm. “I am about to cry it means so much to me,” Young said. “I’ll be able to replace maps and twelve years worth of stuff.”
The Red Cross deployed more than 2,500 disaster workers to help people in Oklahoma. In the days and weeks following the storms, the Red Cross provided more than 6,300 overnight stays, 459,000 meals and snacks, more than 23,000 health and mental health services and distributed more than 390,000 relief items.
As of November 5, the Red Cross received approximately $51 million in donations for the Oklahoma tornado relief effort. So far, about $35.9 million has been spent or committed to help those whose lives were impacted by the storms. The Red Cross is committed to remaining in Oklahoma and working to fulfill people’s emerging or changing needs as they rebuild. The generosity of Red Cross donors will make a difference for those affected in the coming months, and for years to come.
For more information on how the Red Cross is helping people in Oklahoma, view the six-month update.