AOK Division continues to assist survivors of storms
By: Cindy Fuller
The Salvation Army continues to be a source of hope, stability and service to Oklahoma residents five years after spring storms ravaged the state. The Army is a leading partner rebuilding and restoring communities and preparing Tornado Alley residents and response teams for future outbreaks
For three days in 2013 – May 19, 20 and 31 – powerful tornadoes brought loss of life, property and basic needs. Twisters up to 2 1/2 miles wide set records for devastation in impacted areas of Oklahoma City, Moore, Carney, Shawnee and El Reno. Forty-nine people died, and more than $2 billion in property damage was reported.
As an existing community member and partner, The Salvation Army was uniquely prepared to respond immediately. With the deployment of local and regional trained Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services staff and volunteers, survivors and first responders received food, hydration, emergency supplies and emotional and spiritual care.
Immediately after the outbreak, the Army provided 389,037 meals, drinks and snacks; 28,891 hours of employee and volunteer service; emotional and spiritual care to 14,728 individuals; and emergency financial aid to 3,681 families (31,208 individuals).
Service delivery was supported by the deployment of 28 mobile feeding kitchens and the opening of a 100,000-square-foot distribution center. To view stories of the response: https://bit.ly/2s8n1om
“We were prepared to respond to the unprecedented events thanks to an innate knowledge of the community and trained disaster personnel,” said Major Ben Lawrence. “It was a challenging time for the community, but also one of hope, resilience and togetherness.”
Thanks to the generosity of the public and corporate partners, The Salvation Army could meet the short and long-term needs of impacted communities.
The Army helped Oklahoma residents rebuild and replace homes, replaced vehicles and transportation, provided furnishings and household goods, offered utility assistance, met medical needs such as providing eyeglasses, supplied gift cards to meet daily needs and provided Christmas assistance.
In July 2013, the Army’s storm response transitioned to long-term recovery planning.
In cooperation with government and municipal authorities, Oklahoma Emergency Management and Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, a multiagency effort has met the needs of those affected by the tornadoes. The Salvation Army also was a founding member of the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project, a continuing partnership that has served more than 4,000 families.
Often the first direct-service organization in and the last one out, The Salvation Army has a role in long-term recovery and rebuilding critical to restoring self-sufficiency to those in need.
“The Salvation Army has been part of this community for more than 100 years, and we’ll continue to respond and rebuild when disaster strikes – no matter how big or small,” Major Lawrence said. “We may not know what lies ahead, but we’re prepared to serve.”
Cindy Fuller is the communications director for the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division.