Responding to Deadly U.S. Tornadoes

As severe storms continue across the central United States – including a two-mile-wide EF4 tornado that tore through the Oklahoma City area this afternoon – Direct Relief is in communication with more than 200 partners in the affected areas and ready to respond to urgent needs.

The Emergency Team has been in contact with Debbie Haller, development and coordinator of Community Health Centers, Inc. in Carney, Okla., where a tornado damaged multiple homes.  The U.S. team is preparing an offer of assistance for items she requested including personal care and over-the-counter items such as gloves, soap, shampoo, deodorant, sanitary napkins, diapers, wipes and formula.

Haller said the health center and staff are fine, but the power is still out. She is working with other local organizations to respond in the community.

At least 51 people have been killed in the two-mile-wide Moore, Okla. tornado that reached wind speeds of 166 to 200 mph, leveling homes, devastating an elementary school,  and injuring hundreds of residents, reports the BBC.

Direct Relief’s Emergency Team has contacted its partner, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) and is reaching out to the Oklahoma Primary Care Association in order to identify other health centers in the area.

Monday’s storms are a continuation of a massive storm front that began to hit the central United States on Sunday evening. Earlier this morning, Direct Relief reached out to more than 200 health center and clinic partners in 13 states potentially affected by fist-sized hail, severe rain and tornadoes overnight.

Email and text message alerts have been sent to partners in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. So far, a few partners have replied with messages that they will know more as damage is assessed.

The NOAA expects moderate risks of severe weather from Central Missouri to North Texas to continue today and tonight, with large hail, damaging winds and the possibility of strong isolated tornadoes.

Through use of software from technology partner Palantir, Direct Relief is able to view its health center partners under severe storm watch. This information allows Direct Relief to identify partners most in need, letting them know in advance that Direct Relief’ medical inventory is available.

As the only nonprofit licensed to distribute pharmaceuticals in all 50 states, Direct Relief is uniquely positioned to respond to medical needs during national disasters.

Direct Relief’s Emergency Team remains on high alert and is prepared to respond to requests. Please continue to follow the blog as well as Direct Relief’s Twitter feed, for the latest news as the response unfolds.

To donate to the emergency response efforts, click here.
  1. Link to blog is broken.

  2. Thanks for letting us know. We’ll look into it.

  3. Saying that Direct Relief is the only nonprofit licensed to distribute pharmaceuticals in all 50 states simply isn’t true. AmeriCares is also a nonprofit licensed to distribute pharmaceuticals in all 50 states. Please check your facts.

  4. Their website says they are working in 41 states

  5. The website says they support clinics in 41 states. They are licensed to distribute pharmaceuticals in all 50.

  6. Thanks for your comment, Gary. While they may be licensed in more than the 41 states they work in, here is the link to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy website that lists all the 557 organizations that have been certified under the Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributor (VAWD) program. VAWD certification is required for licensure in 3 states – Indiana, North Dakota, and Wyoming – to distribute prescription medications. Of course lesser requirements may exist for the purposes of distributing nonprescription (over-the-counter) medications, which may be the source of confusion here. We are a colleague organization of Americares and in many of the same associations and applaud their good work! It appears that Kaiser is the only other nonprofit entity that is being evaluated for VAWD reaccreditation.

  7. I want to help, but i have little money and live halfway across the country. How else can i help these families regroup and later recover?