GREENSBORO, N.C. — Local organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army are prepared to help out in Oklahoma in the aftermath of Monday’s tornadoes.
“They’re in tornado alley, but that’s devastation I don’t think you ever get used to,” said Susan Smith with the Red Cross in Greensboro.
Smith has responded to many tornado situations including in the Midwest. She said Red Cross emergency response vehicles are now on standby all over the country.
“These would be loaded with bulk food. So, we would pull up in a neighborhood, turn on lights and sirens to let people know we’re feeding,” Smith explained.
Donations will go to buy immediate needs like food, water, clothing and shelter in addition to supplies like tents and shovels for emergency workers.
Donations also provides mental health assistance.
John Edwards of Greensboro is a psychologist with Red Cross who has worked after many natural disasters, offering counseling on-site to both responders and victims.
“We do a lot of walking around, a lot of talking. We attempt to be a meaningful presence for these people. We have big ears. And we listen,” Edwards explained.
The Salvation Army already has canteens on the ground in Oklahoma. Their Piedmont divisions are preparing to roll out if necessary.
“When called upon, we have enough food and supplies to serve for 3 days, 1,500 or so meals a day,” said Major James Allison, referring to the Salvation Army’s canteen in Winston-Salem.
According to The Salvation Army, 100 percent of your donation goes to disaster relief in times of disaster. When there is no current disaster, 82 percent goes toward relief. For the Red Cross, 91 percent of your donation goes directly to the cause. Both organizations say they limit donation dollars going to administrative and overhead costs.
You can specify if you want your money to go to general funds, which may help locally or with preparation for future disasters, or if you’d prefer your donation to go directly to specific disaster relief such as the Oklahoma tornadoes.
Major Allison reminds, donations or boxes full of clothes and supplies are generally not helpful after disasters. Workers do not have the time or resources to sort through and hand out items that are mailed or donated.
“The greatest need is cash donations so we can provide instantly the goods and services the people need most,” he explained.
They suggest donating online so your money can be made immediately available to people in need in Oklahoma.