Red Cross Helping Oklahoma Teachers Replace Personal Items

Moore, Oklahoma, August 15, 2013 - With back to school shopping underway, The American Red Cross is providing financial assistance to teachers and support staff affected by the May storms to help replace lost personal classroom items.

On May 20, Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools were destroyed by a powerful EF5 tornado. The Moore administration building, IT and Highland East Junior High School were also greatly impacted by the tornado. On May 31, the widest tornado in history hit outside of El Reno causing damage to area schools. That same day, Mid-Del schools were hit with severe storms and flooding.

“We know these wonderful educators spend their own money to assist with teaching our children,” said regional CEO, Janienne Bella. “Thanks to generous donors, the Red Cross can assist in replacing those items to help teachers with their recovery.”

The Red Cross is working with all affected districts to identify a need and offer assistance to teachers and support staff. This includes teaching assistants, paraprofessionals and the cafeteria staff. It also includes those who may have taken new jobs outside of the district. In addition to the financial support, each teacher is receiving preparedness information and a first aid kit for their classroom.

“The Red Cross is the first group to step up and not only help teachers but support staff as well,” said district superintendent Dr. Robert Romines.

“I can use this money to help replace the toys I use as rewards for my Autistic students”, said paraprofessional Aimee Bocock.

On Wednesday, August 14, the Red Cross distributed gift cards to the staff in Moore Public Schools at Highland East Junior High, Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary. On August 15, the teachers and support staff with Mid-Del Schools received their gift cards. The Red Cross continues working with El Reno schools to identify those needing assistance. It will also be reaching out to other districts to see if there is a need.

This is an example of the many long-term recovery projects planned across all of the affected communities. Plans are in place for individual and community resilience, school preparedness and community rebuild. Projects could include support for building safe rooms, implementing storm-ready programs in schools and repairs to infrastructure in communities. One such project has already taken place in Steelman Estates, near Shawnee where the Red Cross paid to have their water well repaired. These projects will be decided by local community leaders, the Red Cross and partner agencies.

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.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more 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. To learn more go online to www.redcross.org/okc .