Two months after the deadly tornadoes hit Oklahoma, the American Red Cross continues to provide help and comfort to people in need now. Every day Red Cross workers are assisting families and individuals to get back on their feet with recovery planning, health services and emotional support, and will continue to do so in affected communities in the months and years ahead.
While residents are bravely moving forward, the memory is never far from mind.
ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY On May 19, a tornado ripped through Shalan Pearson’s home in Newalla, Oklahoma. Today, just an imprint remains of where her home one stood.
“Part of my home was over in the pond,” she said.
The next day, Pearson was at a bank in Moore to get files on her home when found herself in the path of the deadly EF5 tornado.
“I was scared and I still wake up with nightmares,” she said. “They told us to all get in the vault and as I looked out the teller's window I could see it coming toward us."
Nearly two months later, all that remains on her property is a donated R/V trailer and a couple of tents. The Pearson’s are unemployed and she said they needed all the help they could get.
Pearson and her family met with the Red Cross and received immediate assistance after visiting the Little Axe Multi-Agency Resource Center.
“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 also provided the Pearson family with other financial assistance and they were able to talk with trained Red Cross disaster mental health workers. Caseworkers remain in contact with her to make sure her and her family’s needs are met.
“When I get back on my feet, whenever that is, I plan to donate to the Red Cross,” she said. “Even if I only have a little money.”
The Pearson’s are just some of more than 19,200 clients the Red Cross has assisted across Oklahoma following the May tornadoes. Red Cross outreach teams continue to visit neighborhoods to make sure needs are being met.
"I'm so thankful to hear that. I want myself and my children to be able to talk to somebody after what we've been through," she said as she gave out hugs.
RED CROSS RECOVERY EFFORTS Today trained Red Cross caseworkers are meeting on-on-one with people who need extra help with unmet emergency needs and creating recovery plans. More than 6,300 cases have been opened to provide this individualized support to families. In addition, the Red Cross is opening new long-term recovery offices in El Reno, Moore and Shawnee where residents can go for assistance with their recovery needs.
The large Red Cross response has spanned multiple communities in the area over the past two months. More than 2,000 Red Cross workers have been part of the response efforts, with about 50 workers assigned there two months after the tornadoes. The work of the Red Cross in Oklahoma has included:
The Red Cross is also collaborating with local, state, and federal partners to plan recovery assistance over the longer term, and are prepared to provide funding support in emergency response, case management, individual and community resilience, school preparedness, and community rebuild.
Learn more about Oklahoma recovery efforts.