In the aftermath of that tragic disaster, World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) is continuing to bring comfort and assistance to those who have yet to recover today.
“Our hearts break with all those who experienced such painful loss,” World Renew DRS Director Bill Adams said in 2013. “Our God is faithful, and He is bigger than the storm. He has given World Renew DRS the mission of bringing hope as well as tangible assistance to the people of Oklahoma.”
As the storm hit, World Renew DRS regional managers and early response coordinators began to evaluate how best to respond. These trained, experienced volunteers made connections with government officials and other non-profits. They also provided spiritual and emotional support to survivors along with making early damage-assessments in the 5-county area that was affected. More than 12,000 homes were damaged in all.
In a rural area west of Moore, Johnnie Brown, a widow, completely lost both her home and her business selling garden plants, pond fish, and chicken eggs. World Renew DRS Early Response Coordinators Rich and Pat Grasman were able to offer support and pray with her as they helped her search for photographs and documents in the rubble. “I know I can depend on God to see me through,” Brown said.
DRS Building Estimators Dale and Joyce Rhodea conducted home repair assessments last December in collaboration with one of World Renew’s five long-term recovery partners in the response, Oklahoma United Methodist Church Disaster Response (OK UMC). The Rhodeas provided building estimates for 60 identified homeowners whose property in Oklahoma City was damaged. The OK UMC then used the estimates to apply for grants and raise funds to complete the reconstruction.
As clean-up was completed and long-term recovery plans were put into place, World Renew DRS volunteers began to assess needs that had yet to be met among survivors who are disabled, elderly, without adequate insurance, or otherwise unable to complete repairs on their own. In May 2014, the volunteers coordinated the assessment and trained coalition representatives from long-term recovery groups in the five affected counties to carry on the process after World Renew’s assessment in the area is done.
"A year after these devastating tornadoes hit central Oklahoma, World Renew DRS is helping homeowners build back better so that there will be less injury and loss of life in the future. That’s practical hope."
- Bill Adams
“World Renew conducted a comprehensive unmet needs assessment in May 2014 and surveyed an additional 310 households who were found to have $8.7 million in recovery needs that are still unmet,” said Mark and Carol Martin, regional managers for World Renew DRS. “Many of these folks were unable to rebuild and are either living in homes that still need repair or are displaced because their home was destroyed.”
World Renew DRS makes door-to-door assessments during the disaster-recovery process in which volunteers survey community members to identify their household needs. DRS then delivers the information to the local recovery group which then uses it to schedule reconstruction projects.
Since the 2013 tragedy struck, state and local government bodies in Oklahoma have also taken steps to improve residential building codes to withstand EF2-level winds. The measures include incentives to build storm shelters.
“World Renew DRS, along with other national partners, is providing leadership and financial support for a storm shelter pilot program in Oklahoma,” Adams says. “The goal of the project is to create a safe location in every home we and other disaster recovery organizations rebuild after a tornado. We are piloting the program in Moore, Oklahoma, but our intent is to replicate it in all areas of the U.S. that are vulnerable to tornadoes.”
The storm shelter program aims to ensure that every rebuilt or newly-built home in America’s “tornado alley” is built to federal standards. Adams adds that some states, including Oklahoma, are starting to provide rebates to homeowners to cover most of the cost of building a shelter in or beneath new and rebuilt houses.
“We want to reduce the risk of future injuries and loss of life during a tornado,” he says. “A year after these devastating tornadoes hit central Oklahoma, World Renew DRS is helping homeowners build back better so that there will be less injury and loss of life in the future. That’s practical hope.”
World Renew DRS will continue to develop the storm shelter project as a model for other communities in tornado alley and help homeowners who are living in damaged homes recover from the storm.
If you’d like volunteer in Oklahoma or other areas in North America where people have experienced a disaster, you can find out more about how to become a DRS volunteer at worldrenew.net/drs. You can also contact our office at 800-848-5818 or email@example.com, and we can find a great place for you to volunteer as an individual, couple, or group.
To contribute financially to this response and other 2013 spring storms, click on the “Donate Now” button below.
Moore, Oklahoma One Year Update (PPT)