Nonprofit Organizations Shift to Intermediate Care for Victims of May Storms in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

Nonprofit organizations that assisted with the immediate care of victims of the May 19, May 20 and May 31 tornadoes have now transitioned from emergency response care to intermediate care.

The American Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma, The Salvation Army, the United Methodist Committee of Relief, the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Society of St. Vincent De Paul are all working at three different disaster recovery centers to help victims in the next phase of recovery.

The centers are in Moore, El Reno and Shawnee.

Previously, the five agencies were part of the Multi-Agency Recovery Centers, all of which have now been closed to allow the agencies to respond to needs on a case-by-case basis.

Red Cross spokesman Christopher Sommer said the organization is manning phone lines at the centers from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and then sending Red Cross caseworkers to help with the needs of the individual or family.

Soon, the other four organizations will be taking on cases as well.

"We have 2,000 cases open right now," Sommer said.

The Red Cross has collected $28.4 million to assist with disaster relief efforts. Of that total, $9 million was spent immediately on emergency needs. The organization plans to spend up to another $5 million on assisting people who request help through the call center.

The remainder of the money will be used to assist the cities hit by the tornadoes in their recovery efforts, such as resiliency projects and education about disasters, as well as offering grant money for projects.

"We're transitioning to long term," Sommer said. "This could take years even in the recovery process. We still have cases open from the Oklahoma City (Alfred P. Murrah Building bombing)."

The Catholic Charities volunteers are also prepared to stay for the duration of recovery, said Sonny Wilkinson, associate director for mission advancement for the organization.

"Our caseworkers will work with each family or individual, assess the needs, create a plan with them and then help them go through the process of repairs and financing," Wilkinson said. …