Late this morning, I was part of a teleconference with Oklahoma VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) to discuss needs and the coordination of resources for the disasters in Carney, Little Axe, Shawnee, Newcastle and Moore. They affirmed several things that I put in my letter this morning in terms of our immediate response to the disaster.
1. Our best immediate response is to hold up everyone involved -- both victims and first responders -- in prayer.
2. Making monetary donations are best. To address immediate needs, please direct donations to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma or the Central and Western Oklahoma Region Red Cross. To address long-term needs, please send donations to the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod Office. Online donations can be made through the Synod Website.
3. Individuals with specific training (i.e. licensed mental health professionals) should contact the Red Cross before heading to OKC.
Some things are not needed right now:
1. In-kind donations. The infrastructure for receiving, storing and distributing in-kind donations is not in place yet. Also, those who have lost their homes do not have anyplace to store in-kind support either. In-kind donations will be needed down the road. We'll let you know what is needed and when.
2. Individual or group volunteers. Again, the infrastructure for coordinating work groups and individuals who want to help is simply not in place yet. At this stage, volunteers can actually get in the way and slow down the work of first responders and trained search and rescue personnel. You can start to plan for these groups and we will let you know when they are needed.
This recovery will take a long time. Groups and donations will be needed for some time to come. While we all want to help immediately, patience is required. Thank-you all for your care, your compassion and your concern for the people of Oklahoma.