A tornado devastated the area on Mon. afternoon.
The American Red Cross "has boots on the ground" in the Oklahoma City area following a devastating tornado on Monday afternoon. Officials say as soon as conditions were safe, volunteers began their work. "They opened six shelters in and around the hard hit areas for people to go to whose homes were obviously destroyed," says Doug Lent, a spokesman for the Red Cross Chesapeake Region.
Lent says most of the Red Cross personnel are those who work in the Oklahoma City area. "So far, no one from Maryland has been deployed to help out yet. However, we have many, many volunteers who are on standby and ready to go, if called," he says. More than likely, Lent says, Red Cross personnel from Maryland are expected to be sent to Oklahoma to help out.
The National Weather Service says the tornado which struck the Oklahoma City area on Monday, mostly in the Moore, Oklahoma area, has been classified as an EF-5, which is the top of the scale for wind speed, breath and damage. It says the twister was on the ground for 40-minutes, and is believed to be a mile wide. As of Tuesday evening, 24 deaths have been recorded, according to media reports.
Right now, Lent says, residents can help out by sending cash contributions to the Red Cross. He says that's preferable to contributing old clothes, food or household supplies. "It would be very expensive to ship supplies of food and clothing from Maryland to Oklahoma to give to people," he says. "And also, there's a lot of agencies which are already providing that sort of help."
Anyone who wants to donate cash can go to the Red Cross website, which is www.redcross.org. They can also call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the words "RED CROSS" to 90999. The money raised can provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by the tornado, says the Red Cross.
If you have family or friends in the Oklahoma City area that you haven't heard from since the twister, Lent says the Red Cross can help with that too. "The Red Cross has a website called 'safe and well,' 'Safe and Well dot-org,' where people can check to make sure that their relatives and their friends are safe and well," he says. They can also call 1-800-RED-CROSS.