World Vision continues response to tornado survivors in Oklahoma and Texas

By John Iwasaki

Make a one-time donation to our U.S. Disaster Response Fund. Your gift will help us respond quickly and effectively to life-threatening emergencies right here in the United States, like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas.

World Vision continues to respond to a series of tornadoes that have devastated Oklahoma since mid-May. Forty-seven people have died so far during the Oklahoma storm season, including at least 17 children.

Oklahoma 2013 - Roger Fisher | World Vision A special message from Roger Fisher of 'Heart'. Click image to view...

The organization was responding to the May 20 tornado that struck the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore when the May 31 twister roared through the metro area, accompanied by heavy rain and flooding. The most recent tornado was classified as an EF3, less powerful than the EF5 that earlier pummeled the state.

World Vision distributed tarps, clean-up supplies, water, and personal hygiene kits after the latest storm, shuttling supplies from its two response centers set up in Moore, said Phyllis Freeman, World Vision's director of domestic disaster response.

More than 60,000 insurance claims related to the May tornadoes have been filed in Oklahoma, with about half for damaged homes and most of the rest for damaged autos. Tornado damage was estimated at $2 billion even before the May 31 tornadoes.

A woman named Yvonne took cover from the May 31 tornado, fleeing from her workplace in downtown Oklahoma City to her home in El Reno. "I had a hard time getting here because of all the stormchasers," she said. "It's not a good day when you come down the highway and there are more stormchasers than you can count."

Yvonne in front of her home that was destroyed in Union City, Oklahoma.

Yvonne lost her home in the tornado. World Vision gave her shovels and rakes to help clean up the devastation. She told Freeman that she and her husband intend to rebuild their home.

"This is my 'Acres of Dreams.' That's the name of my little farm," Yvonne said. "We dreamed a long time before we bought this place, and so we will stay here."

World Vision previously shipped more than 60 pallets of relief supplies—hygiene kits, food kits, shoes, diapers, paper products, cleaning supplies, bleach, tarps, cots, and other items—to Moore, Shawnee, and Noble, Oklahoma, and Granbury, Texas. Tornadoes struck those areas between May 15 and May 20, killing 30 people. The death toll in Moore alone was 24, including 10 children.

The relief supplies shipped from World Vision's domestic disaster response warehouse in Grand Prairie, Texas, are targeting the most vulnerable children and families in the hardest-hit areas.

Yvonne's advice to anybody in a similar situation? "Accept the help that is given to you," she said. "Even if you don't need it, you can pass it on to your neighbor."

World Vision is distributing supplies through local partners, including churches. After the May 31 tornado, Freeman spoke with Sarafia Fleming, whose mother's home lost power in the storm. It was later restored.

Volunteer Bre Martin spends time collecting photos and trying to find their owners.

"I'm sure that there still are lot and lots of homes that don't have electricity, and [whose residents] don't have any way to feed themselves," Fleming told Freeman days after tornado. Freeman told her that World Vision would respond with ready-to-eat meals for those without power.

"Thank you. We appreciate this," Fleming said. "It makes a world of difference."

Rick Miltimore, national director of resources and relief for World Vision's U.S. Programs, said that "it really didn't hit me how catastrophic this was until I saw first-hand the destruction as far as the eye can see."

He said the "outpouring of love and support in Oklahoma is incredible and proof that disasters can bring out the best in people."

As World Vision shifts to a recovery and rebuilding phase, the organization is making plans to ship roofing, siding, and other building materials to the affected areas through the end of 2013 and beyond. Toys will also be distributed to children.

"Our strategy is to become a partner within the community, providing long-term resources to churches, schools and community organizations that are helping families with relief, recovery, and rebuilding," Miltimore said.

The responses to the disasters in Oklahoma and Texas have depleted World Vision's pre-positioned disaster relief supplies. Donations are needed to help replenish critical supplies with tornado season continuing in the U.S.—and the Atlantic hurricane season under way.

World Vision also is seeking volunteers at its North Texas warehouse at Grand Prairie, near Dallas, to support the organization's Oklahoma and Texas relief efforts. Volunteers will help sort, prepare, and pack family food kits and personal hygiene kids, and prepare building materials and other supplies.


Deploying Supplies to disaster survivors

How Can You Help Now?

Pray for children, families, and communities affected by the recent tornado. Pray that the damage would be minimal and that those impacted by the tornadoes would find the help they require.

Make a one-time donation to our U.S. Disaster Response Fund. Your gift will help us respond quickly and effectively to life-threatening emergencies right here in the United States, like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas.

Find out how your company, organization or church can host a Hygiene Kit Event or a School Tools Event.






Oklahoma 2013 - Melody Beard: Homeowner turned volunteer | World Vision Oklahoma 2013 - Child sponsors turned volunteer | World Vision Oklahoma 2013 - Hannah Osborne: A young girl's story | World Vision Oklahoma 2013 - Binh Du: Homeowner | World Vision 2013 Oklahoma 2013 - Deanna Stephens: Student | World Vision 2013 Oklahoma 2013 - Lindsey Minerva: World Vision photographer | World Vision Oklahoma 2013 - Phyllis Freeman: World Vision staff | World Vision Oklahoma 2013 - Rick Miltimore: World Vision staff | World Vision Oklahoma 2013 - Kevin Lay: Homeowner | World Vision Oklahoma 2013 - Christine Gonzales: Volunteer | World Vision


View an image slideshow from Moore, Oklahoma