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Relief


Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project partners with Red Cross, Salvation Army, United Way, Christian volunteers — and a home bathroom company.

Giancarlo Gonzalez November 27th, 2013

The rebuilding continues six months after the Moore tornado. As the weather cools, 41 case managers, drawn from the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project (ODRP), work tirelessly to help their neighbors return to a life of normalcy. Businesses donate to alleviate the sense of total loss for some residents.

More than 2,000 families in Moore, El Reno and Shawnee are getting help to rebuild their homes. TOTO USA, a leading manufacturer of bathroom products, is lending a hand by donating showers, bathroom fixtures and toilets.

Bill Strang, president of operations for TOTO, is familiar with disaster relief. “When we saw the devastation that occurred in Moore, we thought, ‘What can we do to help?’” Strang said. He has helped before in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa and Boaz, Ala., when storms ripped through there, he said.

“We want to make sure we help at the right time,” Strang said.

“But this was, for us, a special case and was so overwhelming in the devastation in Moore that we wanted to do something that was appropriate for helping that community out. So we said, ‘We’ve got some product that we can provide, at no charge, and give to those who are in need who may not have appropriate insurance or adequate coverage, who just don’t have the capability of rebuilding their homes.’” Bill Cudd, president of Oklahoma City Winnelson, is leveraging the company’s expertise in wholesale distribution to aid the survivors by storing and distributing the TOTO donations in a timely manner.

“I’m from the Moore area, and so we’re real excited about getting invited into it,” Cudd said. “We’re kind of a middleman on it and tickled to death to be involved.”

The ODRP is a collaboration of case management through American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Oklahoma United Methodist Church and United Way of Central Oklahoma.

There were 15,000 registrations with FEMA, and approximately 2,000 homes were destroyed. The ODRP case management system helps survivors with a one-stop-shop approach.

Rev. Richard W. Norman, associate director and disaster response coordinator for Oklahoma United Methodist Church, a partnering agency with the ODRP, sees the monumental task ahead of them.

“Out of the 15,000 from six counties, 40 percent were not insured or underinsured,” Norman said. “We’re still trying to figure out who that 40 percent is and where they are over six counties.”

Kami Kuykendall, senior director with American Red Cross Central and Western Oklahoma, recognizes the need for a long-term perspective on disaster relief.

“People can continue to stay interested and engaged,” Kuykendall said.

“Recovery is a long-term process. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. ... I would say continuing to think about the folks in the communities that have been impacted is vital.”

To request assistance through the ODRP, all storm survivors may still call the ODRP hotline, (866) 477- 7276.

 
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