Last month’s deadly tornado outbreak began May 19th in Shawnee. On May 20th and May 31st, two more tornadoes took dozens of lives. Ever since, generous donations to help the survivors have been pouring in from around the world.
Millions of dollars have been raised. Christopher Sommer, with the American Red Cross, tells a familiar story of a tornado victim who spoke with a case worker.
“She immediately began to cry and told us she had lost everything,” he said.
But four days after the May 20th tornado destroyed their home, the victim’s husband died from a heart attack. The Red Cross got her into a new apartment after helping her cope with two tragedies.
“She’s now able to start getting her own place again to live and to start the recovery process,” Sommer said, “And also to talk with our emotional and spiritual care that we have set up in the centers as well.”
“We talk to them, figure out what their needs are, and we give them money based on that,” said American Red Cross Spokesperson Ken Garcia. “So not one area is going to get more than the other.”
Garcia said the Red Cross has raised $26.5 million for May’s tornado victims. Six million was used for immediate needs, like food and shelter. The remaining $20 million will fund long-term needs.
The United Way of Central Oklahoma received more than six million dollars from Blake Shelton’s benefit concert. That was half of the $12 million dollars they’ve raised so far, which helps in ways many don’t realize.
“In some cases, you have people that are insured but they may have lost their job because their business was impacted by the disaster,” said United Way of Central Oklahoma President and CEO Debby Hampton. “So even though they have insurance, they may not have the means to pay for the deductible.”
Hampton said the United Way will work with partner agencies, like Goodwill and Catholic Charities, who meet with victims face to face, then report to the United Way on who needs what kind of help.
“…and this fund is taking care of all of central Oklahoma,” she said.
The United Way tells us 100% of every dollar they receive goes to those specific victims.
The American Red Cross says 91% of every dollar they get helps victims, which is their standard for all fundraising.