Oklahoma: How to Help

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Disaster Response and Recovery
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By: 
Samantha Jo Warfield

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin tours Carney, OK on Monday, May 20, 2013 accompanied by Red Cross staff and volunteers. (Photo courtesy of American Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma)

Ed Note: Check back here for more information. We’ll continue updating this post as the response effort develops.

“So the people of Moore should know that their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them as long as it takes…And what they can be certain of is that Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need.  Because we're a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We've seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point.  And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now.”  -- President Barack Obama, May 21, 2013

President Obama’s words remind us of the remarkable way in which Americans across the country will unite after tragedy strikes, just as they have done in the wake of the devastating tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma yesterday.

As with so many other tragedies that shake our communities, the outpouring of support and desire to help that followed this disaster brings hope. Here are a few ways you can help:

Cash Contributions

In the immediate aftermath, cash donations are the most efficient way to support recovery efforts. They enable relief organizations to reaction quickly to provide the most relevant supplies and services.

Tragically, in the wake of disasters, fraudulent charities can spring up to take advantage of people eager to help affected communities. Learn how to donate responsibly with these resources from the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster site.

Don't Self-Deploy or Send Unsolicited Donations

The urge to help is inspiring in times of disaster, but arriving to scene of a disaster unexpected can be dangerous. If you’re interested in volunteering in Oklahoma, please wait until the area is safe and response organizations begin to request volunteers. We will update this post when organizations are in need of volunteers.

The arrival of unsolicited donated items can be a distraction from important disaster response and recovery activities. Please wait until communities assess and confirm their needs before sending anything. At that time, you can make your donations through non-profits in the National Donations Management Network.

Give Blood

The need for blood rises during disasters, and this problem is exacerbated in affected areas where blood drives may have been cancelled. You can locate information about donating through the American Red Cross or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Volunteer

Affiliate with existing non-profit organizations before coming to the disaster area. Immediately following a disaster, a community can become easily overwhelmed by the amount of generous people who want to help. Working with an established organization will help to ensure that you are appropriately trained to respond in the most effective way.

Be patient: Recovery lasts a lot longer than the media attention. There will be volunteer needs for many months, often years, after the disaster - especially when the community enters the long-term recovery period.

Other Resources

  • Stay Safe
    There continues to be a risk of severe weather in the Plains and Midwest. Listen carefully to instructions from local officials and monitor local radio or TV stations or the National Weather Service. For more information about how to prepare, respond to, and recover from any type of disaster visit www.ready.gov.

  • Find Friends and Family
    Phone lines are frequently overloaded after a disaster and communication can be challenging. Let your family and friends know that you’re safe by registering with Safe and Well after a disaster: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
     
  • Receive Updates
    FEMA on Twitter and Facebook and Blog
    American Red Cross
    Newsroom and Twitter

Find a Volunteer Opportunity

Help improve your community, find your next volunteer opportunity.

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