Leadership

Oklahoma Tornado: How Associations Are Helping Out

By / May 23, 2013 (photo via The National Guard's Flickr page)

After the tornado this week that killed at least two dozen people and caused widespread damage near Oklahoma City, associations from far and wide have come to the aid of both their members and the community at large.

The devastating tornado that touched down outside of Oklahoma City this week may have leveled an entire community, but a number of associations are doing everything they can to help its victims rebuild.

It’s humbling to receive all of the kind words of comfort and offers of support from people around the country.

The mile-wide tornado, the fourth to hit Moore, Oklahoma, since 1999, killed at least 24 people—including nine children—and caused major damage to a number of homes, businesses, schools, and other facilities.

As emergency workers and federal officials do what they can to assist those injured and left homeless by the tornado, associations are also stepping in to help in a number of ways, including:

Credit unions: One of the most dramatic survival stories from Moore involved 22 people waiting out the tornado inside a bank vault at a local credit union. When the danger had passed, the vault was still there, but little else of the building remained in one piece. And soon afterward, the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma leapt into action, approving the distribution of money to tornado victims, with the Oklahoma Credit Union Foundation handing checks directly to a credit union CEO on Wednesday. “Other colleagues and friends from around the state and country are asking how they should go about helping us,” explained Credit Union Association of Oklahoma President and CEO Gary Jones, who spoke to Credit Union Times. “It’s humbling to receive all of the kind words of comfort and offers of support from people around the country.” Credit union associations from other states, such as Kansas, have worked to help victims, and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a federal agency, has activated a disaster-relief policy for credit unions.

Real estate professionals: In the wake of the storm, the Oklahoma Association of Realtors launched a disaster relief fund intended to help those affected by the storm. “The response effort by Oklahomans has been incredible,” the group stated, “and we are grateful to first responders and other volunteers for their efforts to assist those in need. Our state is strong, and we will rally to overcome this tragedy.” Those interested can make donations via the association’s website.

Horse industry associations: “I lost all my horses that were there, 12 including the pony horse and two thoroughbreds,” horse trainer Randy Weidner, a resident of Moore, recently told the American Quarter Horse Association’s Q-Racing Journal. “The barn is gone, truck and trailer gone. We lived in the barn; everything we own is gone.” He isn’t alone: Reports of livestock—especially horses—being caught in the Oklahoma tornado’s path were widespread. That’s why the AQHA is working to help victims like Weidner. The group has started collecting goods and donations at its home base in Amarillo, Texas, and notes that Oklahoma City is considered a “home away from home” for the group. The group will collect goods and donations through Friday.

Humane groups: With pets in just the same type of danger as livestock, it was important for groups to jump to action to help protect domestic animals that may have been injured or separated from their owners due to the tornado. Multiple groups, including the Petfinder Foundation and the Central Oklahoma Humane Society (OK Humane), have worked to help make things easier. OK Humane has organized resources to help “receive, assess, and shelter animals” affected by the tornado. The Arizona-based Petfinder Foundation rushed a grant to OK Humane to help it continue offering services and is also accepting donations in the wake of the incident.

Help is coming from other sources as well: The National Basketball Association, whose Oklahoma City Thunder is among the league’s most successful teams, has donated $1 million to support relief efforts, with the help of the National Basketball Players Association, the NBA’s players union. The Thunder and the team’s biggest star, Kevin Durant, also donated $1 million each.

“As the day went on and I saw the footage and the casualties and the houses being blown away, it was tough to see,” Durant told the Associated Press. “I call Oklahoma City my home. I go through Moore all the time. It’s unfortunate. We’re going to come together as a city like we always do, and we’re going to bounce back.”

How is your association helping in the wake of the Oklahoma tornado? Let us know what you’re doing in the comments.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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