Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How to Help

Yesterday a massive tornado, classified as an EF4 with wind speeds between 166 and 200 miles per hour, swept through Oklahoma, killing more than 50 people and destroying entire communities.

The American Red Cross is already on the ground in Oklahoma, as well as in many other states that have suffered at the hands of this horrific storm, assessing the damage and providing support based on the immediate needs of the communities. In the affected areas and as of Monday night, four shelters are open and others will be open within the next few hours. Volunteers are out providing food and supplies to first responders. More than 25 Emergency Response Vehicles, as well as kitchen support trailers, will move in at first light on Tuesday to provide meals to those displaced from their homes.

But this is just the beginning.

I am not asking you to donate your hard-earned money to the American Red Cross. But because I believe strongly in their mission and have seen firsthand the amazing work they do in the face of disaster and tragedy, I'm going to share with you how you can make a financial contribution - should you feel compelled to do so - to the organization's efforts to support these devastated communities.

Visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a quick and easy $10 donation.

Additionally, here are three pieces of Red Cross-related information I believe are important enough to share here today:

If you are in immediate need of a shelter, click here to view a map of the shelters available in your area. (This map is updated every 30 minutes by the National Shelter System.)

Safe and Well
If you have been affected or displaced by the tornadoes, register your status on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website so that your family members and friends will know where you are and how to contact you (if possible).

If you are concerned about a loved one who may have been affected or displaced by the tornadoes, search for that person on the Safe and Well website.

Safe and Well is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is accessible in both English and Spanish.

Tornado App
If you live in a tornado-prone area, consider downloading the free American Red Cross Tornado app for any iOS or Android device. This app provides tips on what to do before, during, and after a tornado strikes and includes a warning siren and watch/warning weather alerts.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those whose lives have been affected by these tornadoes, as well as with the first responders and volunteers who have put their lives on hold to be there for those in need.

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