My brother, his son, and their dog are all OK, but they lost their home. His house is only about 5 houses down the street from that school that has been in the news. My parents where I grew up is about 2 miles away and missed getting any damage. Needless to say we're all relieved that they are safe!
Volunteering… anything you can do will help, even a small contribution to the Red Cross. As I grew up literally down the street from this area I can personally attest to the significance of the damage, and I feel any contribution will be helpful. I’m volunteering for a remote assistance support program that will be helping people recover their networks that were affected by the storm.
My family is saying that cash donations and "cash" gift cards would be most helpful for the families in the area. Also gift cards from places like Home Depot, Lowe's, Ace Hardware, etc. Since there's concern about donations making it to the right people, I discussed with my dad who has arranged with his church to distribute any funds and gift cards they receive. SO... if you wish to do that, here's the info:
Designate "Disaster Relief" on any correspondence!
Christian Life Fellowship
1400 NW 12th St
Moore, OK, 73170-1017
Since this is a church (non-profit), donations should be tax deductible. You may also be able to get your company to match the donations... I know my company matches up to a certain dollar amount.
A few points about my brother’s developing situation:
- Authorities allowed them to go back to their house just yesterday to begin salvage operations. Apparently they arrested some looters in the area during the search & rescue operations, so both Bro and Dad were chomping at the bit to get back there ASAP. Most of his “important” belongings appear to be salvageable so they are somewhat relieved. The deep freezer was broken but still closed, so everything in there was salvaged into a new deep freezer he had to buy. The fridge was buried in rubble and unreachable. Computers were in cabinets and weren’t water damaged. Monitors and keyboards are history.
- His insurance company (State Farm) is really helping out in an impressive way. They gave him a $5k check for petty cash and instructed him to keep his receipts for EVERYTHING so he can get reimbursed. He now has the daunting task of inventory to submit an “expense report” to the insurance company. I think he said they will reimburse for up to $80k for belongings in the house. Fortunately he is staying at Mom & Dad's house, so he isn't stuck trying to find a hotel while he is displaced.
- FEMA. He watched FEMA literally posing for pictures on top of rubble yesterday while local salvage operations were underway. The rubble had already been cleared of people. He overheard the FEMA guy telling the local police officer that walked over to figure out what they were doing that "this is all for show". I’m not sure what to say about that but they were shocked to see the “event”. I hope he misunderstood them but I doubt it. No word on how much FEMA did other than the "photo op". They are involved in the area so I wonder if this was just to pose for the obligatory picture.
- Important belongings. We weren’t sure his gun safe was waterproof. The gun safe was in the most secure part of the house and so was the least affected. Fortunately everything in the safe was unscathed… no moisture at all and no impact to his important papers or guns. He and my dad both have a Grizzly brand gun safe which has a better locking system than most. Might want to consider putting weather stripping around the safe door if it lacks a moisture barrier.
- Phones. Cell phones were completely inoperable after the storm. My mom was freaking out since my brother is real good at communications, and it took almost 8 hours for phone comms to be re-established. Phones are finally working once again although lines are sometimes busy. Makes me consider getting a Ham Radio license and investing in a handheld Ham so I have a backup communications plan. Not sure if this is worthwhile as we have a "we'll call when we can" policy.
- Bugging out. He "bugged out" which was the recommended advisory vs. hiding in the bathtub which is the typical recommendation. He returned right after the storm to find his house destroyed. Very quickly the authorities closed off the area, and didn't allow them back into the area until AFTER the Search and Rescue process was completed by FEMA and local First Responders. Just yesterday he was able to get back and salvage his perishables from the busted deep freezer. Had the authorities not let him in the meat would have started to thaw (the fridge was all busted up due to the structure falling on it). Moral of the story... consider bug-out to be semi-permanent depending on the situation...
- Looters. Amazingly, his cop buddy told him they had arrested about 20 looters rummaging the area during Search & Rescue efforts. Something to keep in mind if you have belongings that may or may not be portable during an "event"...
Pics – compare to the “before” pics for perspective – one notable thing to me having grown up there is the tree damage:
A final thought – I wanted to make the recommendation to ping your insurance company to walk through a “worst-case” scenario to ensure you understand what would need to happen if you ever had to face a similar scenario. Also be sure to check and double-check your emergency plans – including communications w/ family and loved ones. I’ll be glad to discuss emergency plans as disaster preparedness is somewhat of a hobby of mine.