Local responders contribute to Oklahoma relief effort
by Madasyn Czebiniak
May 22, 2013 | 5202 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s still too early to tell just how many responders will be needed to help with recovery efforts in Moore, Okla., but Anniston’s local relief organizations aren’t stalling.

The Calhoun Baptist Association and the Center for Domestic Preparedness have already been on conference calls with the state. The American Red Cross is accepting text donations and the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office has set up a collection point for food recovery supplies through Foods4disasters.org.

Now, they just need to know how many volunteers are needed and when they can deploy.

“We have our volunteers that are on standby in readiness mode. At this time we’re not sure how many of them will be deployed,” said Peggy Mann, interim director of the Calhoun County chapter of the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross already has two volunteers from Alabama and six shelters open in Oklahoma, according to a press release.

“The volunteers were out with food and supplies last night, supporting the first responders. We’re sending in kitchen support trailers to provide meals for those that are out of their homes,” said Mann.

Laura Hughes, the financial secretary for the Calhoun Baptist Association, said that it could be as long as two weeks before anyone from her organization will be allowed in Moore.

“Right now they’re still searching for survivors and bodies. When state officials find out exactly what they need, they will start calling the different associations and asking them to participate,” she said.

The Calhoun Baptist Association is not new to helping with recovery efforts. After the April tornadoes the CBA built more than 40 new homes and helped repair more than a thousand. She said efforts in Oklahoma may not seem as important to Calhoun County residents because the tornadoes didn’t happen locally.

“It won’t be exactly like that because we were the main focus,” she said.

Captain Bert Lind, the Salvation Army core officer in Anniston, and Les Hontz, co-chair of the Calhoun County long-term recovery committee, think differently because the situations are otherwise so similar.

“I think it’s going to tug on a lot of heartstrings in the area and I think there’s going to be a lot of people that will want to do things to help the people in Oklahoma,” Lind said. “The best thing we can do right now locally is to pray for the efforts in Oklahoma. Above all else that’s what they need.”

Hontz agreed.

“On my Facebook page I have a lot of friends that went through the tornado and they were immediately on Facebook pouring out their hearts. You go through something like that you can really relate. The really good thing about our country is that there will be a lot of support to help people get back to their normal lives,” he said.

Lind said that he has not received any phone calls for relief help yet, but he expects to soon. Because he has been with the Salvation Army for 12 years, he offered suggestions on how people can help.

“I know people don’t want to hear this, but the best thing to do is to send money. To send clothes and physical donations out to Oklahoma is only going to weigh down the help we have out there. They’re going to have to sort out clothes and prepare to receive donations. If we send cash they can go out and purchase in bulk what they need,” Lind said.

Alabama Power Co. and the Center for Domestic Preparedness are both waiting to hear when they should start sending volunteers.

“At this point we have not deployed anyone but they have not called and asked for our assistance,” said Alyson Fuqua-Tucker, spokesperson for Alabama Power’s eastern division. “If we’re called we’ll give you all we have available.”

Lisa Hunter, the spokeswoman for the CDP, said a lot of Calhoun County CDP workers have shown interest in volunteering, but are still waiting to hear whether or not they’re needed.

“We have a lot of people here showing willingness to deploy and help but it matters on what they need. I don’t think we’re going to have anybody deploy today,” she said.

The Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office has set up its own relief effort through Foods4disasters.org to help those in Moore. According to its Facebook page, it will be accepting aluminum pans and lids, aluminum foil, utensils, paper towels, napkins, plastic gloves, canned foods, pasta and plastic tablecloths.

Donors can take them to the Sheriff’s Office at 400 W. 8 St.

Further information about the Sheriff’s Office effort was not available Tuesday.

To help with the relief efforts you can:

Visit www.redcross.org

Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross

Call 1-800-RED CROSS

Visit www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org

Send check to The Salvation Army Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK 73157. Designate Oklahoma Tornado Relief on all checks.

Call 1-800-725-2769 to make a donation to the Salvation Army

Text STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation to the Salvation Army

Visit http://www.food4disasters.org/

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