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Relief work in Moore shifts focus

Some relief centers in the Moore tornado disaster area are closing, and tornado victims are encouraged to take a day off from cleanup efforts and celebrate July 4.
BY PETER WRIGHT Modified: July 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm •  Published: July 3, 2013

— Many tornado relief volunteers in Moore will rest on Independence Day. Needs are changing, and the nonprofits that have been there since May 20 are refocusing.

There's been a steady stream of volunteers at Serve Moore at 200 S Howard Ave. Group coordinator Holly Shockley said the number of people looking to help has fallen off, but it's staying in line with needs.

“It has slowed down, but still every day we've had a need and we've had people walk through those doors to fulfill that need,” Shockley said.

No one will be there on Thursday because they want everyone who can to take a break, she said. They want people to enjoy the city's July 4 “Celebration in the Heartland.”

Serve Moore is a coalition of churches that works with other organizations and the city. It's the place the city has sent anyone looking to help. Anyone wanting to volunteer is still welcome to come to their headquarters, but slots for organized groups have almost filled for the month, Shockley said.

Every day they send teams to tornado-damaged areas to help in any way they can, she said. There is still some debris removal to be done. The coalition plan to continue daily operations through July, and then they'll refocus on how to help with rebuilding.

The Multi-Agency Resource Center at Westmoore High School will close this week. Ken Garcia, spokesman for the Red Cross of Central Oklahoma, said the Red Cross and the other agencies there have seen a drop in traffic.

The Red Cross has helped 19,410 clients with more than $8 million in initial relief, Garcia said. Now they'll continue their work with long-term help, focusing on helping storm victims get back to their normal lives and helping the government and schools prepare for the future.

“Recovery, as we always say, is not a sprint, it's a marathon,” he said.

A new phone number has been set up for victims who want to speak to a Red Cross caseworker. The number is (866) 477-7276.

Red Cross teams are canvassing neighborhoods every day and will be out on July 4, Garcia said.

A spokesman for the Salvation Army said they are fully staffed with volunteers this week, and they also are shifting their focus to longterm help by shutting down their disaster assistance warehouse.