SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO AM) – Moore, Oklahoma serves as an example to remind people in the Midwest that they are susceptible to dangerous weather; especially tornados. When people are injured and left homeless due to a major storm, the American Red Cross is ready to assist.
“There have been many storms recently and so many people are in need; people have been killed, injured and homes have been lost,” said Samantha (Sam) Hill, Regional Emergency Services Director, Sioux Empire American Red Cross. “The American Red Cross in on scene helping with sheltering, food, clothing, medication and the things people need right away. Peoples homes are now piles of sticks, their emotions are shredded and the Red Cross is there to help with all of that.”
Hill said that in Moore right now, the American Red Cross is on the ground with 27 emergency vehicles (ERVs) that look like and ambulance that we serve meals out of. We have shelters set up with food water and first aid. That’s what we do in every disaster and certainly what is happening on Moore. First responders are on the ground right away, working with other agencies and making sure everyone’s needs are being taken care of. We will stay there for a very long time to see everyone through this disaster.
“Preparedness is what gets everything into place for these disasters,” said Hill. “We are 90-percent preparedness and 10-percent response because we spend all year getting ready for these things. We have semi trucks full of food and contracts to get these things there.”
Hill said when the storm hit Sunday they had trucks in the area waiting just out of harm’s way; ready to go in. We have equipment, supplies and volunteers pre-positioned all over the country. So when these things happen, we have trained volunteers who can get in there right away and start providing humanitarian relief.
When it comes to sheltering, Hill said that in Sioux Falls alone, we have over 30 places located because some of them may be destroyed in the disaster. We have agreements with churches, community centers and schools. Our goal is to get people as close to the disaster as we can. For example, you don’t want to shelter someone from Brandon in Mitchell and take them so far away from the disaster.
“The worse part of a disaster is not knowing whether your family is safe or them not knowing you are safe,” said Hill. “We set up computers so people can register on the Safe and Well website. We received calls on Monday night from people here who had family in Moore wanting to know if they were all right, so we directed them to the Safe and Well website.”
We in Sioux Falls can help the people in Oklahoma in two ways,” said Hill. “We run mostly on contributions and volunteers. There are several ways to make contributions; ext the words Red Cross to 90999 and that will be a ten-dollar donation. You can go to Red Cross on line, at the local chapter or call 1-800-Red-Cross.”
Hill said for people who want to donate clothing, pots, pans and utensils, it isn’t time yet. The best donation to make at this time is financial. For ten dollars, we can feed ten people.
Sam Hill was interviewed by Jack Taylor, KELO News May 21, 2013