By Shana Adkisson
The Norman Transcript
MOORE — Even though the events of May 20 have passed the three month mark, several items related to the recovery efforts of the storm were the topic of the Moore citycouncil meeting held on Monday evening.
Honored during the meeting were members of Serve Moore, a collaborative effort of multiple churches and organizations working together to serve the people of Moore that was formed following the May 20 tornado.
“We very much appreciate what you all have done. There is no way to say thank you enough,” City Manager Steve Eddy said.
Since May 20, Serve Moore has had 34,600 volunteers from around the world serve for the agency, which breaks down to approximately 228,936 volunteer hours and 1,600 families have been served.
“I just want to say thank you. The first time I heard about you guys was with the volunteers of the cemetery. We were thinking maybe 25 or 30 people would come by the cemetery to pick up trash and about 1,500 people showed up. That was amazing. We were still looking for people and you just picked it up,” Glenn Lewis, mayor, said.
Council members received a presentation from Debby Hampton, executive director of United Way of Central Oklahoma, and Janienne Bella, executive director of Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma, regarding long term recovery efforts from each agency following May’s tornadoes.
According to Hampton, as of May 20, the United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund has received approximately $14.6 million in pledges and donations.
To date, United Way of Central Oklahoma has dispersed approximately $5.2 million toward the relief efforts of May storms. The types of needs met by these funds included mental health and trauma counseling for adults and children, debriefing for first responders, restored the space used for counseling children impacted by the disaster and the immediate needs as requested and verified by partner agencies and collaborating non-partner agencies.
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.
“We have been here since the beginning and we will be here in the future,” Bella said.
Bella also added that more than $300,000 of Red Cross funds went to teachers to help rebuild their classrooms.
In addition to other agenda items, Moore city council members approved an agreement with Barrett L. Williamson Architects Inc. for Phase 1 master planning of a new animal shelter in the amount not to exceed $16,420.
The Moore city council will meet again on Sept. 16.