Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Brownback: Donating cash best way to help Oklahoma tornado victims

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management is urging anyone wishing to contribute to disaster relief efforts ongoing in Oklahoma to donate cash to disaster relief organizations rather than donating goods.

“It is such a heartbreaking situation we are witnessing with our neighbors in Oklahoma and I know a lot of people want to help because that is just the way Kansans are,” said Gov. Sam Brownback. “We see a need and we want to do something about it. The best way we can help right now is to donate cash so that emergency relief organizations can purchase exactly what is needed when it is needed.”

KDEM recommends Kansans consider donating to reputable disaster relief organizations of their choice such as the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org), Salvation Army (www.salvationarmyusa.org) or United Way (www.unitedway.org) or local organizations within the communities affected.

Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general and director of KDEM, urged people to volunteer their time and services through official channels rather than self-deploying.

“We understand everyone wants to help, and we also realize volunteers who self-deploy mean well,” said Tafanelli, “but they sometimes forget their presence will put a strain on food and shelter resources needed to help storm victims. It’s better to let relief organizations know that you are available and what skills and other resources you can bring. Then they can contact you if and when your help is needed.”

Any requests from Oklahoma for civilian emergency responders will come through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact system alerting the Kansas Division of Emergency Management of the need.

Requests for Kansas National Guard troops to assist will come through National Guard Bureau to the state and likely also be routed through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact system.

This ensures the state is reimbursed through FEMA and state emergency declaration procedures, and the response is part of the overall coordinated state effort.

“We are watching for any requests for assistance from Oklahoma and we have reached out to our state counterparts to let them know we are ready to help,” said Brownback.