NORMAN — A team of Catholic Charities disaster response specialists from across the country are assisting Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City as it responds to the needs of people affected by the recent rash of tornadoes, announced Patrick Raglow, CCOKC executive director.
Within days, disaster case managers and specialists began arriving from the Diocese of Joplin, La Cross, Indianapolis, Tulsa, Biioxi, Brownsville and Baton Rouge.
Kim Burgo, disaster operations senior director from Catholic Charities USA, arrived early to lend technical support from the national office.
Since Hurricane Katrina, the national Catholic Charities network has elevated its role in disaster response to become one of the country’s leading early responders, creating a niche in disaster case management. The CCUSA team’s disaster experience covers the gamut of natural events ranging from Hurricane Katrina, California wildfires, floods, tornadoes, American Samoa tsunami and many others.
“We are grateful to Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Charities offices for their on-site staff expertise in helping us respond to this disaster,” Raglow said.
Immediately after arriving, the 12 loaned staff began working alongside local CCOKC workers, assessing immediate needs of disaster victims arriving at the four MARC sites and a distribution site set up at All Saints Catholic School in Norman.
Case workers to date have interviewed more than 1,100 heads of household, assisting them with gift cards, housing deposits, crisis counseling, and personal and household items.
“The initial meeting is a first step on the long process to recovery,” Raglow said, “but our real case management will begin later when we do a more in-depth analysis of the families with multiple barriers to recovery. Disaster response runs in predictable cycles. Right now, we are still in the initial relief stage, but already we’re seeing the signs the area is moving into the recovery stage.”