The tornadoes that ripped through central Oklahoma at the end of May have since been supplanted in the news by any number of events each more upsetting than the last—most notably the tragic death on June 30 of 19 elite firefighters in Arizona.
(Related: Hero Firefighters Named, Mourned, in Arizona)
Yet the events surrounding the spate of tornadoes that struck Oklahoma City and its suburbs on May 18 through 21 are still fresh in the minds of the thousands who lost their homes, and those who lost family members. At least 20 Indian families lost their homes, some of them while huddled in shelters underneath, as the Komah family did. See the Komahs’ incredible tale of tornado survival.
Numerous organizations are reaching out, helping to shelter families as well as rebuild and donate the most ordinary of supplies and household goods to those who made it through with just the clothes on their backs. The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference launched a website, Trails of H.O.P.E. (Helping Our People Earnestly), created specifically to funnel tornado assistance directly to tribes.
By June 14, the Conference had raised just over $24,000, it announced announced on its Facebook page. Of that, $10,000 came from the church’s United Methodist Committee on Relief and the rest from local churches and individuals,” the conference said. (Related: Oklahoma Tornadoes: New Website Collects Aid for Native Victims)
A week later, by the one-month anniversary of the tornadoes, the conference announced on its another $10,000, this from the Eastern Band of Cherokees, as well as a $10,000 grant from the AARP. In addition there were other donations.
“The Oklahoma City Indian Clinic is a partner with Nike N7 and they gave us brand new Nike clothing for persons affected by the tornadoes,” the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference said. “We were glad to see young Native kids come in and find brand new shoes and sportswear that will be perfect for the summer. Your contributions have helped us to provide gift cards, housing needs and more to aid families. Thank you for your support and prayers and for spreading the word regarding the need.”
Tribes are also contributing directly to the relief effort. The Cherokee Nation, along with its business enterprises, donated $50,000 to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma on June 20, Fox23 News reported. The Chickasaw Nation is also helping, having established the Chickasaw Nation Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund for tornado victims. The Choctaw Nation donated to the Salvation Army. Individuals, too, are stepping in to help, and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) highlighted a few of them in a June 20 statement.