Local disaster workers respond to OK devastation

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Local disaster workers are in the Midwest responding to the suburbs of Oklahoma City devastated by recent tornadoes.

Anna Kate Twitty with the American Red Cross' Palmetto SC Region left Saturday morning for the Heartland and is one of 10 other disaster workers from Columbia who is now deployed to Oklahoma.

News 10 spoke with Twitty via Skype who says there are currently 1,100 Red Cross disaster workers on site. She adds four Red Cross shelters are still open for those affected by the tornadoes in parts of Shawnee, Moore, and El Reno.

Since tornados first hit the Shawnee area on May 19th, Twitty says hundreds of people have accounted for more than 4,000 overnight stays in shelters. She says they've served more than 200,000 meals and Red Cross workers are doing everything from serving those meals to one-on-one client case work.

"I think one of the best things about the Red Cross are our mental health workers who are out in the field," said Twitty. "They're trained in how to give counseling and one-on-one support. That's what people need right now. They need to know everything's going to be okay… that the Red Cross is there and that their community has their back."

Twitty says the shelters will remain open until everyone has a place to go. "We're going to make sure every last person has a home," said Twitty. She adds almost all area hotels are sold out because that's where a good majority of the people who have lost their homes have found refuge.

She says to ensure those affected get all available hotel rooms, Red Cross workers have moved into dorms at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

Twitty says she'll be in Oklahoma at least another week, but she expects Red Cross volunteers to be on the ground there for weeks and months to come.

If you still want to help, you can donate by calling 800 RED-CROSS, visiting their website www.redcross.org or making a one-time $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

Twitty says the Red Cross is also currently responding to parts of Missouri, flooding in Tennessee and the wildfires in California.