Devastation in Oklahoma: How to help from Ohio - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

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Devastation in Oklahoma: How to help from Ohio

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Organizations across the Mahoning Valley are on stand by in wake of the disasterous tornado that has leveled communities and killed at least 21 people in Oklahoma.

Karen Conklin, executive director of the American Red Cross of the Mahoning Valley, says she expects numerous volunteers to be tapped from the area Red Cross to travel south.

Conklin advises those who want to help the victims of this week's storms but have not been asked to volunteer to consider how they can help financially rather than physically.

She says when people travel to devastated areas, they often add more chaos for the professionals who are organized and acting off a plan that involves other professionals.

Donated items also tend to "clog the system," she warns.

"Right now, the best way they can help is to contribute financially," Conklin says.

To donate money, you can visit the Red Cross website or send a check to your local office.

AT&T customers who want to support the Red Cross' efforts can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10. The donation will be charged on your monthly AT&T bill.

Monetary donations can also be made to the Salvation Army online.

Checks can be made out to the Salvation Army; write "2013 Oklahoma Tornadoes" on the check and send it to your local chapter.

You can also donate $10 to the Salvation Army by texting 80888.

The local Salvation Army chapter does not have any volunteers in Oklahoma at this time. A representative says he does not expect they will be requested. In the case they do send volunteers, they will only send Salvation Army trained volunteers.

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Mahoning Valley is accepting food donations that can be earmarked for Oklahoma City.

The 12 Ohio food banks in Ohio are working together to pull all resources, says Mike Iberis, executive director of the Mahoning Valley food bank.

The food banks are standing by waiting for their counterparts in Oklahoma City to ask for help.

Iberis says anyone who holds a food drive collecting food for exclusively for Oklahoma can donate that food to the Mahoning Valley food bank and it will be separated from food meant for Ohio.

With severe weather coming to our area, Conklin suggests downloading the Red Cross Tornado application on your phone. The application makes a tornado siren sound in the event of a tornado in the same manner as when real tornado sirens go off.

She also suggests people register with the Red Cross Safe and Well program to allow loved ones to know they are safe.

The Emergency Management Agency suggests several safety tips in the event of a tornado locally.

EMA TORNADO SAFETY TIPS

TORNADO WATCH

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHAT TO DO: 

  • Weather conditions are favorable for a tornado.

WHAT TO DO:

Listen to the radio and/or television for weather reports and watch for changing weather.  Look for approaching storms.  Look for the following danger signs:

Dark, often greenish sky                             Large hail

      Large, dark, low-lying cloud                        Loud roar, similar to a freight train.

(particularly if rotating)

TORNADO WARNING

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHAT TO DO:

  •  A tornado has been sighted and may be headed your way. 

WHAT TO DO:

If you are in a structure (e.g. house, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high rise building:

  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest level.  If there is no basement go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level(closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.  Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.  Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.  DO NOT open windows.

If you are in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home:

  • Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter.  Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.

If you are outside with no shelter:

  • Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.  Be aware of the potential for flooding.

DO NOT get under an overpass or bridge.  You are safer in a low flat location.

  • NEVER try to outrun a tornado in a car or truck.  Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.

Watch out for flying debris.  Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

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