Salvation Army Helps Oklahomans Rebuild & Prepare 5 Years After Tornado Outbreak

May 16, 2018
Cindy Fuller | cindy.fuller@uss.salvationarmy.org | (405) 254-1156

Salvation Army Helps Oklahomans Rebuild & Prepare 5 Years After Tornado Outbreak

With response and recovery efforts complete, Oklahomans can now focus on being prepared for future storms

MOORE, Okla. (May 15, 2018) – The Salvation Army continues to be a source of hope, stability and service to Oklahoma residents five years after spring storms ravaged the state. For three days in 2013 – May 19, 20 and 31 – an onslaught of powerful tornadoes brought loss of life, property and basic needs. Today, The Salvation Army is a leading partner in helping rebuild and restore the communities and prepare Tornado Alley residents and response teams for future outbreaks.

The tornadoes, reaching up to two and half miles wide, set records for devastation in impacted areas of Oklahoma City, Moore, Carney, Shawnee, and El Reno. Forty-nine people died, and more than $2 billion in damages were reported.

As an existing community member and partner – The Salvation Army has a presence in every ZIP code in America – the organization was uniquely prepared to respond immediately when the tornadoes struck. With the deployment of local and regional trained Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services staff and volunteers, survivors and first responders received food, hydration, emergency supplies, and emotional and spiritual care. Immediately after the outbreak, The Salvation Army provided:

  • 389,037 meals, drinks and snacks
  • 28,891 hours of employee and volunteer service
  • Emotional and spiritual care to 14,728 individuals
  • Emergency financial aid to 3,681 families (31,208 individuals)

Service delivery was supported by the deployment of 28 mobile feeding kitchens and the opening of a 100,000-square-foot distribution center.

“We were prepared to respond to the unprecedented events thanks to an innate knowledge of the community and trained disaster personnel,” said Major Ben Lawrence of The Salvation Army. “It was a challenging time for the community, but also one of hope, resilience and togetherness.”

You can watch stories of The Salvation Army’s impact here.

Thanks to a historic $23 million donated to The Salvation Army to meet the short and long-term needs of impacted communities, The Salvation Army has helped residents rebuild and replace homes, replaced vehicles and transportation, provided furnishings and household goods, offered utility assistance, met medical needs such as providing eyeglasses, supplied gift cards to meet daily needs, and provided Christmas assistance.

Often the first direct-service organization in and the last one out, The Salvation Army has a role in long-term recovery and rebuilding that is critical to restoring self-sufficiency to those in need. In July 2013, The Salvation Army’s response efforts transitioned into long-term recovery planning. In cooperation with government and municipal authorities, Oklahoma Emergency Management, and Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, a multiagency effort met the needs of those whose lives had been affected by the tornadoes. The Salvation Army was also a founding and participating member of the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project, a partnership that served more than 4,000 families with long-term recovery planning and assistance.

The exceptional generosity of the public enabled The Salvation Army to provide more than $13.3 million in direct services to survivors of the three tornadoes for both emergency and long-term recovery needs. Remaining disaster funds have been and will continue to be used for:

  • Mitigation projects and preparedness investments. Projects have included assistance for residential storm shelters, providing preparedness bags, supplying weather radios and increasing the availability of mobile feeding units. Since 2013, The Salvation Army has positioned new mobile kitchens in Oklahoma City and Ardmore.
  • Services to meet the needs of survivors of future disasters in the area, including tornadoes (Oklahoma has experienced more than 350 tornadoes since the start of 2013), wildfires, earthquakes and storms. Since the May 2013 tornadoes, The Salvation Army of Arkansas & Oklahoma has provided services in more than 25 additional disasters.
  • Preparations to help future responders, including training, investments in equipment and infrastructure, and increased post-deployment follow-up services for disaster workers. Since 2013, The Salvation Army of Arkansas & Oklahoma has offered more than 90 certified disaster training classes and added GPS-based tracking on all mobile feeding units in the two states as part of a pilot program to increase food accessibility in future emergencies.

“The Salvation Army has been part of this community for more than 100 years, and we’ll continue to respond and rebuild when disaster strikes – no matter how big or small,” said Major Lawrence. “We may not know what lies ahead, but we’re prepared to serve.”

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go to www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

Our Mission

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
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