The red dirt still looks freshly moved outside 67 year old Stoney Parkhill’s home in Bethel Acres. He recently installed his new storm shelter close enough to get to it quickly and after the Red Cross delivered his H.O.M.E. Preparedness kit on Saturday, February 15, he has everything he needs inside as well.
“It’s great, after being through one [tornado] you realize things that you need that you didn’t have and don’t think of what you do need,” stated Mr. Parkhill.
Red Cross volunteer teams went door-to-door on Saturday with the kits which included weather radios, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a Red Cross whistle and educational literature about what to do if a disaster strikes.
Parkhill and his wife were high on the list to receive a kit. Their home took a direct hit from the tornado in May 2013.
“It was the weirdest feeling in my life when I came out of the shelter and it got real quiet,” Parkhill told the group of volunteers. “I went outside and all seventy-five of my trees were gone, glass and furniture turned upside down and all the windows and doors were blown out. It was strictly amazing.”
H.O.M.E. stands for Helping Oklahomans Manage Emergencies. The idea behind the kit is to ensure those affected by the storms in Pottawatomie County not only have replacement items to keep them better prepared, but are presented with one-on-one tips to use the toolkit effectively.
One example is ensuring kit recipients are aware their weather radios are tested on Wednesdays by the National Weather Service.
That is an important tip for Parkhill and his wife who now have a plan and a weather radio to take to the shelter next time.
Roughly forty homes were targeted to receive the Red Cross H.O.M.E. Kits in the Bethel Acres area. More kits will be delivered throughout the storm affected areas in the coming months.
The Red Cross is also working with four other partner agencies on long-term case management for individuals and families. For many, this could include assistance with transportation needs, help with home repairs and even security deposits on new housing. Other long-term needs could include medical and mental health care. All cases are different and are based on individual and family needs. The Red Cross will be working with the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Society of St. Vincent De Paul and The Oklahoma United Methodist Church to make sure all needs are met. All of these agencies will be working in unison out of centers in El Reno, Moore and Shawnee to serve clients. Those needing assistance can call 1-866-477-7276.