American Red Cross disaster responders continue to provide relief and comfort to Oklahomans as they recover from the severe flooding and storms across the state. Eight shelters remain open and several others are currently on standby. More than 527 overnight stays have been provided and many more are visiting every day for hot meals and information about what help is available. 

Trained Red Cross health and mental health workers are providing services to people at the shelters, including emotional support and replacing prescription medications and eyeglasses. Response vehicles are currently driving through storm-damaged neighborhoods, delivering food, water, and clean-up supplies such as bleach, mops, gloves, rakes and shovels.

“It’s heart-wrenching to see the destruction this storm has caused and that so many people have lost everything,” said Red Cross of Oklahoma Chapter Executive Lynn Horton. “Red Cross workers are here now, providing shelter, food and comfort, and we’ll be here in the days and weeks to come to help people begin to recover.”

Since Wednesday, May 22, 233 Red Cross workers have:

Served 7,153 meals and snacks

Distributed nearly 100 relief supplies including clean-up kits and comfort kits with hygiene items

Provided 527 overnight stays in Red Cross shelters

Made over 264 mental health or health-related contacts

Hundreds of homes have been assessed for damage and Red Cross volunteers continue to seek out neighborhoods and other impacted areas for additional support.

The American Red Cross of Oklahoma wants everyone to know what steps they can take to stay safe if dangerous weather is predicted for their community. Meteorologists are predicting severe weather and high potential for storms and tornadoes this afternoon.

How to Prepare for a Severe Thunderstorm

If You Do Nothing Else

Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to select up to 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts on their mobile device. The content includes expert guidance on what to do before, during and after different emergencies or disasters from home fires to hurricanes. The app can be found in smartphone app stores by searching for American Red Cross, texting ‘EMERGENCY’ to 90999, or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Put together and emergency kit.

Know your community’s evacuation plan.

Create a household disaster plan and practice it.

Then, If You Can Do This

Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible).

Discuss thunderstorm safety with members of your household.  Be aware that a thunderstorm could produce a tornado.  Tornadoes develop from severe thunderstorms along and ahead of cold fronts.

Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm.  This should be a place where there are no windows, skylights, or glass doors, which could be broken by strong winds or hail and cause damage or injury.

Learn how to crouch low to the ground on the balls of your feet.  Place your hands on your knees and your head between your knees.  Minimize your body’s surface area, and minimize your contact with the ground. Lightning current often enters a victim through the ground rather than by a direct overhead strike.

Additional Steps to Protect Your Home

Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a severe thunderstorm, including things that may be broken or blown away in strong winds.

Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed.  Strong winds frequently break weak limbs and hurl them at great speed.

Remove any debris or loose items from around your home and outbuildings and from pastures.  Branches and firewood may become missiles in strong winds.

Protect your animals.  Ensure that any outbuildings, pastures, or corrals that house animals are protected in the same way as your home.

Consider installing permanent shutters to cover windows.  Shutters can be closed quickly and provide the safest protection for windows.

Install lightning rods on your home and on barns or any other building that house animals. Lightning rods will carry the electrical charge of lightning bolts safely to the ground, greatly reducing the chance of a lightning-induced fire.