“I opened the front door and it sounded like 20 freight trains coming at us,” recalls Shane Clark. On May 25, an EF3 tornado rocked the small town of El Reno, Oklahoma, causing damage to several businesses and destroying an apartment complex, hotel and mobile home park. More than 100 people were left injured and/or without a place to stay.
“I put my two arms around my wife, and as soon as I did our house got picked up off the floor and started to spin. Our house was blown to pieces, I’m lucky to be alive,” Clark said. Despite having been trapped, he only received a few bumps and bruises. His wife had more extensive injuries, including a broken foot.
This week the Oklahoma resident was allowed back into his neighborhood and spent the day with his son, searching through debris to find any belongings that survived the storm.
“Our whole life is right here. Everything we had was in our house. Our vehicles were destroyed, everything in our house. We don’t know where anything is,” Clark reported.
The American Red Cross is working hard to get supplies and support to this community. Distribution of emergency supplies such as rakes, buckets, tarps and more will start soon, now that the community is allowed back into their homes. Emergency response vehicles will also start to provide food, water and supplies to help these residents get back on their feet and start the cleanup process.
To date, the Red Cross has provided hundreds of shelter stays for families and individuals, served thousands of meals and snacks and made hundreds of health and mental health contacts to people who have been impacted by the severe storms in Oklahoma. As storms continue to impact the region, volunteers from across the United States are coming in to help provide food and shelter, comfort and support.
For families like the Clarks, the support they have received over the past few days is overwhelming.
“It’s unbelievable,” Clark said, “I’ve never seen anything like this and the help and kindness that has come out to support those of us who lost everything. I’ve never been through anything like this before or needed help like this. And now I am in that position and seeing all the support people are willing to give and what they all do, it’s just unbelievable.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP You can help people affected by disasters like storms and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. To donate by check or to a specific cause, please complete this donation form by printing and mailing to your local Red Cross chapter.