Henryville, Red Cross Seek To Aid Oklahoma Relief Efforts

A Henryville school that was devastated by a tornado last year is organizing a fundraiser, and local Red Cross chapters are managing volunteers and donations.

oklahoma aftermath

Photo: Joe Wertz/StateImpact Oklahoma

An airman kneels and prays in the Moore neighborhood south of Plaza Towers Elementary School.

Administrators, teachers and students at a school that was ripped apart by a tornado just more than a year ago are seeking ways to help the victims of the Oklahoma disaster.

On March 2, 2012, a tornado tore the walls and ceiling off Henryville’s elementary school and high school and flattened much of the small Indiana town. Monday, two elementary schools were leveled when a mile-wide tornado hit Moore, an Oklahoma City suburb.

Henryville High School plans to take up a donation Wednesday to raise money for the families.

The school’s Principal Troy Albert says he also plans to visit Oklahoma after graduation on June 2 and help anyway he can. No one died in the Henryville tornadoes, which, Albert says, makes it hard to truly understand what Oklahoma families are experiencing.

“It’s just totally different than what it was here,” he says. “Here, we were replacing buildings. And you hear a lot of people on the news today saying you can replace buildings. You can’t replace people. I sympathize with them right now as they move forward in the rebuilding process, which I know they will do.”

Elementary Principal Doctor Glenn Riggs’ message to those in Moore is that recovery takes time.

“Really determine what it’s going to take to redirect, rebuild, to fill the gaps,” he says. “Even a year later here ourselves, we’re not whole yet, and it’s literally going to take a lifetime in many cases.”

Both principals say their buildings were as safe as possible and are being reconstructed in a similar way.

Red Cross To Send Trained Volunteers

The Red Cross’ Indiana branches are also ramping up disaster relief efforts.

Monroe County Chapter is contacting its trained volunteers in hopes of sending them to assist with the aftermath of the Oklahoma City tornado.

Monroe County Chapter Executive Sue Gulley says her office trains people throughout the year so they are prepared when natural disasters occur.

“We have some specific call outs for people with skill sets,” she says. “So at this time we are calling to our Red Cross volunteers who are skilled in shelter management, mobile feeding, for instance, logistics, all the things you can imagine are needed in the early days of a disaster.”

Gulley encourages those who are not trained to provide monetary donations. She says those are preferable to donations of goods, which can be difficult to organize and distribute.

The Red Cross has also created disaster relief canisters people can pick up at their local office if they want to collect donations for the Oklahoma Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

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