Pauls Valley Democrat
Countless are the stories where neighbor helped neighbor in the aftermath of devastating tornadoes in May and the result so far is an immeasurable amount of assistance delivered from every day citizens.
However, for 10 Garvin County volunteers with the Heart of Oklahoma chapter of the American Red Cross, it was a background of preparation that helped them bring about the most good.
Recounting the involvement was local Director Angielee Wright, who joined some of the first volunteers with the organization as they opened shelters in spots like Newcastle, hours after the storm rolled through.
Their involvement continued for a couple of weeks afterward as they met with victims who lost their homes as well as belongings and got the process rolling as other Red Cross and disaster related agency representatives relieved them from across the country.
“We had quite a few volunteers that responded immediately,” said Wright, noting how five volunteers from Wynnewood and Elmore City also helped distribute meals and beverages to emergency responders on scene. “We did all the response the first week.”
Wright pointed out how each one of those volunteers was trained in a specific area from opening/maintaining a shelter to damage assessment as well as client care and are not as limited as someone untrained coming in right as recovery efforts begin. The Red Cross won’t necessarily turn those people away, but they may be limited to simple tasks like transporting supplies and won’t be able to do as much for efforts in the end.
It is for this reason Wright said more people need to begin training before the next disaster strikes and is putting out a call for interested individuals. After taking the free courses they may need to specialize in a certain area they can stick to doing work they are most comfortable with and be utilized until they are needed for the next recovery project.
“To be the best neighbors they can be they need to be trained now,” said Wright, adding how additional volunteers could also come in handy in situations where outside volunteers are stretched thin in a multiple state disaster.
“Now is the time when we’re not in tornado season to get trained.”
In the end, the recovery after the storms in the Moore area will continue for the foreseeable future as quite a few families continue to seek out assistance including temporary housing or getting together bare essentials like clothing.
The best way to contribute to that cause will be financial donations as the money can go to fund specific items that meet the individual needs of the impacted.
“The Red Cross is formulating a three-year plan to help the neighborhoods affected,” said Wright.
“Right now there aren’t 1,100 places to rent for these families who are in hotels or staying with family. They need long term recovery and not just here and there.”
To see how one can volunteer or donate to a specific cause, check online at http://www.redcross.org.