JOPLIN, Mo. —
Financial support for organizations providing shelter and supplies to Oklahoma tornado survivors is recommended for people who want to help.
Otherwise, the word is to wait for requests.
Members of the Joplin Long Term Recovery Committee and Transform Joplin met Tuesday to talk about how to help those affected by tornadoes on Sunday and Monday in the Oklahoma City area. They agreed to reach out, but to provide only what Oklahomans ask for so that official rescue and relief efforts are not hampered.
The committee chairwoman, Renee White, said the group learned from working on Joplin’s tornado recovery that response needs to be measured.
“We want to respond with our hearts and with logic to strategically provide what is needed when it is needed,” she said.
Mike White, deputy fire chief at Redings Mill, said there has been no request yet through state-to-state mutual aid for volunteers to go to the disaster areas.
“What I take from that is they had resources and probably have a lot of that in place” to accomplish rescues, he said. Right now, trained search and rescue personnel are needed, and additional volunteers could impede the rescue and security efforts.
“Those who self-deployed were sent back home today,” White said Tuesday.
Joplin sent a team of trained responders — 10 police officers and four firefighters — to Moore on Monday. They came back to Joplin on Tuesday after providing security at one location in Moore, but they were not needed because of the number of personnel already on duty there.
Assistant Joplin City Manager Sam Anselm said it was his understanding that 5,000 trained responders are available closer to the Moore area who can provide immediate service. The National Guard also has been deployed there.
What is recommended now is donations to the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army to provide shelter and meals for the displaced residents and emergency workers, Anselm said.
“Don’t send supplies unless they’re asking you for it,” he said Joplin officials have been told. He said Moore is interested in setting up a foundation to receive donations for city rebuilding as Joplin did after the 2011 tornado. Joplin also will provide assistance when asked, he said.
Nigel Holderby, chief communications officer for the Southern Missouri Region of the American Red Cross, wrote in a statement issued Tuesday that “monetary donations are the very best way to help. Your donations allow us to purchase supplies and relief items locally as well as to provide shelter, food and emotional support to those in desperate need in Oklahoma and across the Midwest.
“If you are interested in volunteering, we ask at the request of the local Emergency Management in Oklahoma that you not self-deploy. This can cause delays in the current efforts which are search, rescue and recovery.”
Jay St. Clair, of College Heights Christian Church, said there will be a great need for help in the future that people can fulfill if they wish to volunteer. He said College Heights has received requests from churches in Moore for tarps and for plastic boxes or totes that can be given to people to keep their belongings. Those items were being collected at the church Tuesday and would likely be en route to Moore today.
In addition, donations of cash and gift cards will be taken for distribution in Oklahoma to people who will need to get re-established.
The Joplin Family Worship Center is teaming up with Oklahoma City-based nonprofit Feed the Children to provide supplies that have been requested, said pastor Dan Wermuth. Baby items and clothing were requested, along with some of the same types of items St. Clair mentioned. Wermuth said his church will collect donations of those items for delivery Tuesday and perhaps the following Saturday, June 1.
The Long Term Recovery Committee will have a tent at the Joplin tornado anniversary observance today at Cunningham Park. Residents may write well-wishes that will be delivered to people in the Moore area. The committee also is calling for all area churches to hold a collective prayer Sunday morning for the tornado-stricken areas.
A number of other efforts were launched on Tuesday.
• The Joplin Family Y, working with Zimmer Radio, collected relief supplies with the goal of sending a truck today. Bottled water, cleaning supplies, baby formula and supplies, first aid products and hygiene supplies may be dropped off at both Family Y locations, 510 S. Wall Ave. and 3404 McIntosh Circle.
• Charlie Brown, with Homes of Hope and Stars of Hope, said his organization is collecting supplies at the Christman’s Event Center, 501 S. Main St. A list of items includes water, canned goods, hygiene and toiletry items, sunscreen, tools, flashlights and batteries, gloves, trash bags, hard hats, storage containers and moving supplies, and gift cards.
• The First United Methodist Church, 501 W. Fourth St., is accepting donations to buy supplies.
• Convoy of Hope, based in Springfield, made a delivery Tuesday to Moore of emergency food, water and cleaning supplies. Convoy is responding to specific requests of its partner churches in the tornado-stricken area, according to a statement.
• The Joplin Area of Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 320 E. Fourth St., is accepting donations that will be sent to the Moore Chamber of Commerce for business rebuilding.
THE JOPLIN LONG TERM RECOVERY COMMITTEE formed a month after the Joplin tornado to coordinate relief and recovery. The group distributed supplies and has helped rebuild or repair 1,000 houses.