Whenever I hear Oklahoma, I immediately think of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! (Truth be told, I was in the play when I was in 5th grade decades ago.) The lyrics to the title song are..."OOOOk-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain. And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet. When the wind comes right behind the rain. OOOOk-lahoma." As a Long Islander, my only tornado experience is the Twister attraction at Universal Studios. That is more than real enough for me. The devastation is just unimaginable.
On Monday afternoon, the 2-mile wide tornado that hit Oklahoma was officially classified an Enhanced Fujita 5, the strongest tornado possible with winds of at least 200 mph.
Dozens of deaths were reported by the state medical examiner's office. "Hearts are broken" for parents looking for their children, said Governor Mary Fallin. Aerial views show rampant fires, crushed cars and buildings in ruins. Two elementary schools were heavily damaged. Mother Nature is not acting very motherly. President Obama has declared the path of the tornado a major disaster area.
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant has pledged $1 million for tornado relief through his foundation. He is eager to help a devastated area begin to rebuild. The American Red Cross said the gift from The Durant Family Foundation is meant to match other donations and be an incentive for more people to give. The Thunder also announced a $1 million donation, as did the NBA and players' union."
Here are some things that you can do locally to support the people of Oklahoma.
- The Red Cross The best way to help is to donate at RedCross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999.
- The Salvation Army They have mobilized in Oklahoma. You can support them by donating online, or texting STORM to 80888 to contribute $10 to the Salvation Army’s relief efforts; or by making a donation via phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
- The Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief Organization Go to their website. You can also send checks to: BGCO, Attn: Disaster Relief, 3800 N. May Ave., Oklahoma City, OK., 73112.
- Save the Children Their emergency response team will deploy Child Friendly Space kits in shelters, helping to create a safe and secure atmosphere for displaced kids. The organization is also prepared to deploy infant and toddler hygiene materials, as it has for past disasters. Text TWISTER to 20222 to donate $10 or donate online.
- United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief Fund They are open and accepting donations. Donations can be made online at www.unitedwayokc.org or sent by mail to United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK 73101. Note that your donation is for May Tornado Relief.
- Moore & Shawnee Tornado Relief Fund Contributions can be made securely at www.TulsaCF.org. Donations can also be mailed to the Tulsa Community Foundation offices at 7030 S. Yale, Suite 600, Tulsa, OK, 74136.
- Feeding America Their network of food banks will also help the victims in Oklahoma. Donate online here or call (800) 910-5524.
- Operation USA. Donate online here. You can also give a $10 donation by texting the word AID to 50555. Checks should be sent to: Operation USA, 7421 Beverly Blvd., PH, Los Angeles, CA 90036 or call: (800) 678-7255.
If you're involved with any charity efforts to help those affected by the recent natural disaster in Oklahoma, please email email@example.com to be included on this list.