To date, the Oklahoma Strong Disaster Relief Fund has raised approximately $4.4 million. Gov. Mary Fallin, in coordination with the United Way of Central Oklahoma, has established the fund to assist with the long-term needs of victims devastated by the May tornadoes.
According to Bella, from May 19-May 31, Red Cross responded to 19 storms. During that time, there were 12 Red Cross shelters that provided 6,500 overnight stays for individuals displaced by storms, and 45 emergency vehicles distributed food, cleanup items, sunscreen and more.
“About mid July we started our response phase slowing down and started our long term phase. They overlap a little bit, we have to do that in ensure there is not a gap in service. As we headed in the long term recovery phase, we knew we were looking at probably an 18 month to two year project, if not longer just based on our dealings with other communities. For instance, we’ve been visiting with folks in Joplin. The Red Cross in Joplin is three years out and they still have long term recovery,” Bella said.
According to Bella, as of date, $38 million has been raised by Red Cross.
“I will tell you that is very generous of a tornado this size. It’s not typical of Red Cross dollars that we would see come in the door. And I will let you know from reading the notes and the letters that are coming with the donations, the schools have a huge impact. The donations have just been phenomenal, people have opened up their hearts and their wallets and have been very generous. Locally, we did not make one ask for one dime. That $38 million that was given to the American Red Cross was by the generosity of our donors,” Bella said.
Bella vowed that the Red Cross would remain in the community to help those impacted by the May tornadoes.