• Cynthia (Cindy) Fuller

Salvation Army Marks One-Year Anniversary of 2013 Central Oklahoma Tornadoes

Long-term recovery to continue for years to come in affected communities.

Oklahoma City, OK  (May 2, 2014) - The Salvation Army continues to provide long-term recovery services to residents whose lives were forever changed following a series of deadly tornadoes in May 2013 that ravaged Central Oklahoma. The first storm hit on May 19, with an EF3 and an EF4 tornado that struck communities in Cleveland, Lincoln, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties. They were followed the next day by an EF5 tornado that struck Cleveland, Grady, McClain and Oklahoma counties. The third storm happened on May 31, when the widest tornado in recorded history hit Canadian county. In total, these storms were responsible for 49 fatalities and more than $2 billion in property damage.

Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) teams immediately responded to the storms and provided food, hydration, and emotional and spiritual care to survivors and first responders. Thanks to generous support from the American public, corporate donors, and philanthropic organizations, The Salvation Army raised $18.2 million for response and recovery efforts. The long-term recovery of storm survivors, with their many and varying needs, is an ongoing focus for the Army, and is where the bulk of donated funding is committed.

“The storms that devastated Central Oklahoma have impacted the lives of residents forever,” said Major Steve Morris, Divisional Commander of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division of The Salvation Army. “The debris may be gone, but the recovery is going to take a long time.” 

Initial Response

Of the total donated, The Salvation Army has spent $2.4 million (more than 13%) on response operations, including the deployment of 28 mobile kitchens and the opening of a 100,000 sq. ft. distribution center. During response operations, 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), with assistance such as gift cards, vouchers to Family Thrift Stores, and referrals for a variety of services.

All the while, The Salvation Army continued to operate its regular programs and services, providing meals, emergency shelter, clothing and energy assistance to residents in need who were not affected by the disasters.

“The fact that The Salvation Army was able to maintain its ongoing services even as we stepped in to provide emergency disaster services when the storms came through, is a testament to the dedication and the unique scope of the Army,” said Major Morris. “The Salvation Army works to repair the heart, not just the home, and we will continue to serve our neighbors whenever and wherever there is need.”

Long-term Recovery

As the disaster response has transitioned from immediate to long-term recovery services, The Salvation Army continues to support families affected by the storms and to help rebuild communities. The Salvation Army has committed the balance of the total donated (nearly 87%) to long-term recovery, including the following:
• $10.5 million to support long-term recovery case management and direct aid for disaster survivors
• $3 million for construction of residential storm shelters
• $1.7 million for community preparedness and mitigation projects, including the distribution of weather radios and emergency “go” bags, senior programming and preparedness, and other outreach programs to help make communities more disaster-resilient in the event of future storms
• $650,000 for a furniture program to help disaster survivors replace furnishings and general household goods

The Salvation Army is a founding member and participating agency of the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project (ODRP), a multi-agency case management partnership. The case management process will involve working with affected individuals and families to help identify their needs, develop their long-term recovery plans, connect them with available community resources, and help meet their long-term recovery goals, one step at a time. To date, ODRP has 1,107 open cases and has closed 1,589 cases.                         

“It will take a long time for this region’s residents to fully recover from a disaster of this severity,” said Captain Carlyle Gargis, Area Commander of The Salvation Army’s Central Oklahoma Area Command. “We are one of the primary social service providers in this region, and we also have long-standing partnerships that allow us to help our clients meet a very broad range of needs.”

To commemorate the anniversary of each storm, The Salvation Army will release special videos sharing real stories about tornado survivors. To view, please visit The Salvation Army’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/SalvationArmyUSA/) on May 19, May 20, and May 31.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter for the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. Eighty-two cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, visit SalvationArmyUSA.org.