Oklahoma leaders and emergency officials held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon to update the public on the status of the rescue and recovery process and to provide further information for individuals and families who are in need of services.
Governor Mary Fallin (R-OK) described the affected area as “difficult to look at.” Roads, street signs, and what were once standing structures are now completely unrecognizable. The distance the tornado traveled is estimated to be 20 miles, at times reaching two miles in width.
Fallin received phone calls from President Obama and other cabinet members on Monday and Tuesday expressing their sympathies and offering any type of federal assistance necessary. Officials are working to restore water, communications services, and electricity to over 38,000 individuals in the Moore, Oklahoma area. FEMA administrator Craig Fugate explained the swiftness with which the federal government has commenced recovery efforts, beginning with President Obama’s signing of the Oklahoma Disaster Declaration. The FEMA system for those who have been affected to register for housing assistance is now fully operational.
The Oklahoma state legislature is in the process of proposing legislation that would allow the state to reach into the “rainy day fund” for additional resources to aid in the recovery.
First responders and emergency officials continue to tirelessly search the affected areas. By Tuesday afternoon, search and rescue teams made it through a majority of the devastated areas, assuring the public that they will search each area and affected property three times thoroughly by end of day Wednesday.
Moore Public School Superintendent Susan Pierce took to the podium during the press conference in an emotional statement to the families in the ravaged community. Pierce extended condolences, thanked emergency officials, and assured the community that all schools performed proper sheltering measures. “A tornado’s path is very unpredictable, but with little notice we implemented our tornado shelter procedures at every school site,” she said. As the numbers stand now, nine children were killed as a result of Monday’s tornado, in addition to at least 15 adults. There have been over 200 injuries.
Governor Fallin offered words of encouragement, “It has been a very trying couple of days for the state of Oklahoma. It’s a sad time for us because we’ve experienced one of the most horrific storms and disasters that the state has ever faced. But yet in the midst of tragedy and loss of life, we’ve also seen the resilience and the courage and the strength of our people. And we will get through this, we will overcome, and we will rebuild, and we will regain our strength.”
You can watch the press conference in full here.
Governor Fallin and community officials specified ways that people can extend assistance to this area, naming the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army in particular.
American Red Cross
Send $10 to the Disaster Relief fund by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999 or by visiting the website at RedCross.org.
Phone: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767); for Spanish speakers, 1-800-257-7575; for TDD, 1-800-220-4095
The Salvation Army is currently organizing disaster response units to serve the hard-hit areas in Oklahoma. Supporters are encouraged to give online or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).
You can also text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.”
Donate to the Oklahoma Tornado Relief by mailing a check to: The Salvation Army, PO Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK 73157.
To see an extended list of ways you can help those affected by the tornado, click here.AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Chris Landsberger