Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, left, picks up a stuffed dog Monday from the rubble of Kimberly Graham's home, at the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park, which was hard hit in Sunday's tornado, near Shawnee, Okla. Graham is seated at rear in white talking with Red Cross workers.
In the aftermath of the massive tornado that devastated parts of Oklahoma City and its suburbs, Toledo-area groups and charities are stepping up to bring relief to the victims.
Early Tuesday morning, the American Red Cross dispatched 30 response vehicles from all over the country. As the need arises this week, Toledo could be called to send assistance as well, said Amanda Aldrich, a spokesman for the Toledo office.
To accommodate the possible need for additional volunteers, the northwest Ohio branch of the Red Cross will hold an informational session at 6 p.m. Thursday at its Toledo headquarters, 3100 West Central Ave.
Two additional informational sessions will be at the same time Thursday in the Findlay and Lima offices.
“This has been a major disaster, and the Red Cross will be there for the people in Oklahoma and their local community,” Ms. Aldrich said.
With winds between 200 and 210 miles per hour, Monday's tornado roared through Moore, on the outskirts of Oklahoma City, leaving buildings flattened and killing dozens in the deadliest U.S. tornado since 2011. The local Red Cross is one of many charitable organizations in northwest Ohio to respond to the disaster.
The Toledo branch of Catholic Charities USA is collecting donations for families and individuals affected by the twister and is in communication with the Oklahoma agency to provide food, shelter, and counseling, communications manager Andrea Slivka said.
Another local disaster relief organization, ISOH/IMPACT, is encouraging community members to join its Bucket Brigade, a team of volunteers that packages food and other supplies for victims.
A group of ISOH/IMPACT staff members and volunteers on Monday loaded a 53-foot semitrailer with food and items, said Linda Greene, executive director of operations. Another truck, she added, is to leave for Oklahoma on Friday.
“We can't do what we do without the support of the people in this area,” Ms. Greene said. Volunteers, she added, can go to ISOH/IMPACT's Distribution Center in Waterville, 905 Farnsworth Rd., every day from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m.
Capt. Tawny Cowen-Zanders, area coordinator of the northwest Ohio branch of the Salvation Army, said donors can mail checks to the Toledo office, 620 North Erie St., or directly to the Oklahoma office.
A seasoned volunteer who answered New York City's call for help after the Sept. 11 attacks, Captain Cowen-Zanders said Salvation Army volunteer teams from across the nation are already at the scene, and volunteers from Toledo might soon join them.
“At times like these, it's difficult to sit and watch: we just want to do something,” she said. “Today we're all for Oklahoma.”
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