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Oklahoma tornadoes: Disaster relief efforts ongoing for tornado victims

The American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma and other agencies offered food, shelter and other assistance to victims of Tuesday's deadly tornado outbreak.
BY CARLA HINTON chinton@opubco.com Published: May 26, 2011
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Disaster relief efforts for victims of Tuesday's tornado outbreak ranged from tree debris removal to providing ice for families trying to keep their food from spoiling.


Rusty Surette, spokesman for the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma, said fewer than a dozen families stayed overnight Tuesday at each of the emergency shelters. He said the Red Cross partnered with churches and other organizations to open shelters in Piedmont, Stillwater, Chickasha, Newcastle and Canton. The Salvation Army opened a shelter at its Canadian County Distribution Center in El Reno.

Wednesday's disaster relief efforts focused mainly on providing meals and bottled water, Surette said. He said counselors were made available to offer emotional support.

The Red Cross held spontaneous volunteer training sessions Wednesday, then sent teams of volunteers out into neighborhoods to help assess the damage. Volunteers distributed hygiene kits, shovels and rakes to assist families as they sifted through the debris.

Surette said the Red Cross relies solely on donations. The organization has been providing assistance to tornado victims in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., in addition to Oklahomans, so donations would be appreciated, he said.

Sam Porter, director of Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, said his organization set up a kitchen at First Baptist Church of Piedmont, which is a Red Cross shelter.

Porter said meals for storm victims and disaster relief crews are being prepared at that site to serve victims in Washington, Blanchard, Newcastle, Goldsby, Piedmont and Oklahoma City. He said chain saw teams were working Wednesday in Joplin and across Oklahoma, helping with tree debris removal.

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