State Representative Dan Fisher, R-El Reno; Janienne Bella, Chief Executive Officer, Red Cross of Central & Western Oklahoma; El Reno City Manager Tony Rivera; AARP Oklahoma Associate State Director Dusty Darr; AARP Oklahoma State Director Sean Voskuhl; Sharon Eads, Canadian County Red Cross Disaster Case Manager; Tim Barnhart, Construction Supervisor and Volunteer Coordinator, United Methodist Church.

State Representative Dan Fisher, R-El Reno; Janienne Bella, Chief Executive Officer, Red Cross of Central & Western Oklahoma; El Reno City Manager Tony Rivera; AARP Oklahoma Associate State Director Dusty Darr; AARP Oklahoma State Director Sean Voskuhl; Sharon Eads, Canadian County Red Cross Disaster Case Manager; Tim Barnhart, Construction Supervisor and Volunteer Coordinator, United Methodist Church.

With the six month anniversary of the devastating 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes approaching, AARP Oklahoma today presented the final grant of nearly $680,000 donated by its members and foundation to help those affected by the disasters statewide.

Officials from the American Red Cross accepted a $60,000 check from AARP that it says will be used to continue the long-term recovery efforts for those affected by storms. Among the towns that will receive aid from AARP grants are Bethel Acres, Broken Arrow, Carney, Dale, Dewar, Edmond, El Reno, Little Axe, McCloud, Moore, Oklahoma City, Poteau, Shawnee and Weleetka.

“Over the past six months, we have worked closely with local organizations to ensure funds donated by our members were distributed in a way that best helped meet the needs of Oklahomans throughout the state who are trying to rebuild their lives as a result of these storms,” said AARP Oklahoma State Director Sean Voskuhl. “We are pleased to make this final donation to the American Red Cross which provided immediate help in the hours following the tornadoes and continues to assist with long-term recovery. We know there are still many unmet needs, particularly among older Oklahomans. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims as they struggle to rebuild and recover.”

“We are thankful for partners like the AARP and their continued support of the work of the Red Cross in Oklahoma,” said regional CEO, Janienne Bella.  “We are committed to being there in months and years ahead as our communities rebuild.”

The Red Cross remains actively engaged in long-term recovery efforts in the areas impacted by the May 2013 storms. More than 6,300 cases have been opened to provide support to more than 20,000 people and this work continues. Projects are underway and plans are in place for individual and community resilience, school preparedness and community rebuild.

Within hours of the May storms, AARP Foundation established an Oklahoma relief fund to support victims. AARP and AARP Foundation matched dollar-for-dollar contributions up to $300,000 resulting in a total of nearly $680,000 raised from more than 6,300 people across the country, Voskuhl said.

Voskuhl said other Oklahoma organizations receiving AARP tornado grants are using the money to provide direct assistance to those affected including:

  • The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma –  will use grant money to provide debris cleanup including chain sawing removal of destroyed and broken trees, sifting, sorting and searching for personal family valuables among debris and debris removal. The BGCO also will provide financial assistance for under-insured or non-insured homeowners 50+. Where possible widows, the physically challenged and special needs individuals will also be identified as appropriate recipients of assistance in storm recovery efforts;
  • Aging Services, Inc. – unmet needs among Oklahoma seniors;
  • Areawide Aging Agency, Inc – money is being used to provide household items, transportation, tree and debris removal and essentials necessary to normalize the lives of those 60+ impacted by the storms in Moore, Oklahoma City, El Reno and rural areas;
  • Legal Aid Service of Oklahoma – will assist disaster victims to literally rebuild by assisting with insurance, FEMA appeals, mortgage issues, frauds and scams, foreclosure concerns, replacing lost documents, housing problems and public benefits after a disaster;
  • Oklahoma City Community Foundation – provide mental health, case management, legal aid and transportation;
  • United Way of Pottawatomie County – grant used for transportation, storage, home repairs, housing, shelters and utility bills;
  • Rebuilding Together OKC –  estimates it will spend half of the grant making roof repairs and the other half on repairs such as heating systems, flooring and walls;
  • Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma – providing food, household products and disaster relief supplies to individuals impacted by the tornadoes in Moore, Shawnee, Carney, El Reno and Little Axe.
  • Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Command – recovery services, which will include everything from food and financial assistance to emotional care and rebuilding efforts;
  • Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference — spent directly on materials and supplies for Native American tornado victims.

 

All organizations receiving grants have signed a letter of agreement and submitted a plan detailing how they will use funding to help storm victims. In addition, grantees have committed that 100% of funds will be used for direct assistance in Oklahoma and no portion will be used for administrative costs. Each organization will send a final report to AARP detailing the full expenditure of its grant money.

Voskuhl said AARP will continue to participate in long-term recovery committees in Pottawatomie and Oklahoma/Cleveland counties and has established an AARP Oklahoma Disaster Relief Team that will mobilize when needed in the future. To learn more about AARP’s Disaster Relief Team, call 1-866-295-7277.

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