Central U.S. Tornadoes Response
“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 unite after tragedy strikes, as they have done in the wake of the devastating tornado that struck Moore, OK, on May 20, 2013.
National Service Deployments
Working closely with federal, state, and local officials, CNCS began deploying AmeriCorps members to the region on Tuesday, May 21. As of Monday, May 27, 66 AmeriCorps members were on the ground.
AmeriCorps St. Louis deployed nine AmeriCorps members in the early morning hours of May 21 to support the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross. A veteran of many disasters, AmeriCorps St. Louis was the lead volunteer organization following the May 21, 2011, Joplin, MO, tornado.
An additional 36 AmeriCorps members serving in FEMA Corps are deploying to the region to work alongside FEMA staff. A partnership between CNCS and FEMA, FEMA Corps is a new division of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) that utilizes members in disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
CNCS is coordinating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, the American Red Cross, and state and local authorities. In addition, the agency is working with its state field offices and service commissions within states affected by the recent severe storms to deploy additional AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers.
CNCS continues to work closely with other regions that have recently experienced tornadoes and severe storms and national service resources remain on standby for affected areas in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
For more updates about CNCS's actions related to Moore, OK, and other Midwest storms, please www.nationalservice.gov/central-us-tornadoes. The agency is also communicating about deployments and volunteer opportunities via Twitter (#disasterserve).
How to Help
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:
Interested volunteers should contact the Bethel Acres Volunteer Reception Center (VRC), which is serving the Shawnee, Little Ax, and Carney areas. The Bethel Acres VRC is located at 18101 Bethel Acres Rd, Bethel Acres, Okla. and can be reached at 405-275-4128. The United Way of Central Oklahoma is also accepting volunteers.
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.
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.
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.
- 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, Facebook and the agency's blog
American Red Cross Newsroom and Twitter
Research and Reports