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Red Cross Continues Tornado Recovery Efforts in Oklahoma

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SOURCE American Red Cross

Progress Report Shows Help and Support One Year After Deadly Storms

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross today released a progress report on its work to help people and communities in Oklahoma rebuild and recover since a series of deadly tornadoes hit the state last May.

American Red Cross

The Oklahoma Tornados One-Year Update describes the response of the Red Cross immediately after the storms, its work to support recovery, and support for programs and projects that help people prepare to stay safe during future severe weather, thanks to the generosity of donors and the work of volunteers and staff.

"The destruction in Oklahoma following last May's deadly tornadoes is one of my most vivid memories in nearly six years at the American Red Cross, and I am deeply inspired by the resiliency of people as they have worked to recover and rebuild," said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. "The Red Cross has stood with Oklahomans, delivering food, shelter, relief supplies and other support immediately after the tornadoes struck. We were with tornado survivors as they began the recovery process-and we will continue to help people in the months and years ahead."

"When the people of Oklahoma needed help, the American Red Cross was there," said Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. "In the days after the May tornadoes, Red Cross volunteers could be found in communities across central Oklahoma, helping victims find shelter, providing food and water to first responders, and aiding in the cleanup efforts. I am profoundly grateful for the work they have already done to support our community, and I know they will be there for Oklahoma in the future as well."

"Looking back over the year and remembering the horrific tornado that hit my hometown of Moore, I am extremely grateful for the many Red Cross volunteers who immediately, urgently and skillfully provided assistance both in the critical hours after the storms and beyond," said Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04). "Never once were we lacking in supplies or shelter for those displaced or severely impacted by the tragedy. In addition to providing vital relief efforts in Oklahoma's darkest hour, the Red Cross continues to play an essential role in recovery efforts today through various services in our communities, including disaster preparedness education. Our state is surely stronger and our communities are still in high spirits because of the great work, commitment and support of the Red Cross. We are more grateful than words can express."

The work of the Red Cross is possible because of the compassion and generosity of the American public. The Red Cross has spent or made commitments to spend $48.1 million, nearly 92 percent of the $52.4 million donated for the Oklahoma tornadoes. The remaining donations will be used to support recovery and resiliency programs in the affected Oklahoma communities.

IMMEDIATE DISASTER RESPONSE
The report details how the Red Cross responded immediately after the first tornados tore through Oklahoma last May by providing food, water and relief supplies to survivors. In the months that followed, trained Red Cross caseworkers met one-on-one with thousands of Oklahomans to help them take the next steps in rebuilding their homes and lives.

The Red Cross emergency relief and recovery efforts across multiple communities were powered by more than 2,500 workers – and 91 percent of them volunteers.

The immediate response efforts of the Red Cross included:       

  • Activating more than 45 emergency response vehicles
  • Providing more than 6,300 overnight stays in shelters
  • Distributing nearly 400,000 relief items like ice chests, buckets, gloves, dust masks, flashlights, tarps, shovels, rakes, and sunscreen
  • Providing more than 23,000 health and mental health contacts
  • Serving nearly 460,000 meals and snacks

RECOVERY EFFORTS CONTINUE
The Red Cross has continued to work within the hard-hit communities, providing individuals and families with a variety of services to help them rebuild their lives and recover. Working with partners, the Red Cross has helped nearly 2,700 households – an estimated 8,000 people total – through recovery centers in El Reno, Moore, and Shawnee.

The Red Cross is also providing more than $10.3 million in grants to community partners across the affected region to help people install new storm shelters in their homes.

In addition, the Red Cross has also helped to replace classroom supplies by giving almost 400 Oklahoma educators from the El Reno, Mid-Del, and Moore school districts grants ranging from $500 to $1,500 last fall.

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
Tornadoes are an all-too-frequent threat in Oklahoma, and the Red Cross has stepped in with preparedness education to help people of all ages and backgrounds stay safe during storms. Through April, 2014, the Red Cross has helped close to 6,000 Oklahomans better prepare for severe weather through community events, school programs, and door-to-door outreach. Red Cross volunteers have fanned out across the region to reach people with emergency preparedness information and deliver thousands of preparedness kits.

Red Cross volunteers are also going into schools to teach children how to better prepare for and emotionally cope with severe weather emergencies. Volunteers lead elementary school students in educational games and teach them how to put together their own emergency kits.

The Red Cross is also working to better provide preparedness information and materials to the growing Hispanic community in Oklahoma. In addition to a community outreach fair held in March, the Red Cross is recruiting additional bilingual volunteers and working with the local Spanish-language media to share disaster preparedness information in both Spanish and English.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies 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. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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