The tornado sirens that went off more than two weeks ago in Oklahoma signaled the start of an onslaught of deadly tornadoes that occurred over several days in and around Oklahoma City – and the people affected continue to receive help.
The American Red Cross responded almost immediately and is still in the affected communities, making sure people have a safe place to stay, food to eat, access to relief items and cleaning supplies, health services and emotional comfort.
People are still staying in Red Cross shelters. The Hueso family’s home in Moore was severely damaged by the tornadoes. After staying with relatives for almost two weeks, Jesus Hueso and his young family decided to seek help at the Red Cross shelter at Moore Community College.
“I’m originally from Arizona and didn’t even know what a tornado was,” Hueso said. “And I certainly did not know what all the Red Cross did to help until I actually needed it.” He and his family have been spending some time with Red Cross volunteers while staying at the shelter. “Everyone here is super nice and helpful,” said Hueso, “I can’t walk ten feet without someone asking if we need help.”
His family has formed a special bond with mental health volunteer Charlotte Taylor. “People know when they come in that no matter how hopeless or helpless they feel, we care about them. We line them up with counselors, case workers and health services,” Taylor said. “It is joyful to see them leaving with a bit of hope, knowing that there is help and that perhaps there will be a more joyful future.”
Taylor, a three time cancer survivor, is a long-time Red Cross volunteer that deployed from South Carolina to help with relief efforts in Oklahoma. “I believe in what the Red Cross does with everything I am, so I am glad to be a part of the Red Cross team deployed to Oklahoma to help relieve the suffering,” said Taylor.
F.D.N.Y. VOLUNTEERS The Fire Department, City of New York (FDNY) Disaster Assistance Response Team has long been a partner of the Red Cross. "We've been working together for many years through many disasters," said Michael Mondello, FDNY Team Leader.
During the current response to the Oklahoma tornadoes, the FDNY Team took special training to be able to work in a special capacity as the Red Cross Government Liaisons. These special liaisons are positioned at multiple Emergency Operations Centers at the local, state and federal levels throughout the affected communities in Oklahoma.
Government Liaison Volunteers work with the Emergency Managers at each level to determine the needs of the community and to ensure the Red Cross is involved in the planning required in meeting those needs quickly and efficiently. The Liaisons then take the information up to Red Cross leadership to get the teams out in the field tasked with providing the relief that has been requested.
"We are proud to give back to Oklahoma during this emergency because we have been on the other side and needed your help. You were there...now it's our turn." said Chris Edwards, FDNY Disaster Assistance Team member.
RED CROSS RESPONSE In Oklahoma, more than 1,100 Red Cross workers are making sure people have a safe place to stay, food to eat, relief items and cleaning supplies, health and mental health services and emotional comfort. For more than two weeks since the first tornadoes hit the area, the Red Cross has:
HOW TO HELP You can help people affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and other crises by making a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. You can donate by visiting www.redcross.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.