Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Anita Foster From the Field: Twisters Leave Destruction Across Oklahoma

Over the years, I've seen tornado damage more times than I can count. But I will say this. You never get used to seeing peoples lives literally blown apart.

We spent the day yesterday in an area called Choctaw. You could tell that the neighborhood was tight-knit right away, and that they were all in a state of shock.

One woman was in her driveway when we approached. Her husband, an active duty Air Force member home on leave, was in the hospital recovering from his injuries. She told how he had survived several tours of duty in Iraq, but got injured in his own home due to a tornado.

Another woman, Robyn, walked us through the remains of her home. Imagine one of those set pieces used in movies where the doors swing open but there's nothing behind them. That's what the front of her home looked like. There was a front door, but when you opened it, you were met with a 10 foot pile of 2x4s and massive trees. She has no walls, no ceiling, nothing. She and her husband survived in a tiny linen closet that could barely fit a child. It was miraculous and horrifying at the same time. That tiny closet was the only room of the entire house completely in tact.

The stories go on for days. People here in Oklahoma have been through a major trauma and the Red Cross is doing all we can to help. We've been out on the streets with feeding vehicles and damage assessment teams. We've distributed tons of work gloves, shovels, rakes and tarps and we've hugged a lot of these good people.

Today, we turn our focus to Disaster Mental Health counseling. The weather is expected to turn severe this afternoon so we'll be out this morning making sure everyone is aware of the weather threat and we'll be handing out materials that will let the victims know how they will react today when the skies open up. It's going to be a tough day all right.

As always, it is a privilege to serve through the American Red Cross. I have met wonderful families and terrific Red Cross volunteers here in Oklahoma. And I'm always comforted to know that if our community is affected by a terrible storm like the one they endured, these same folks will rush to Texas to help us out. In my opinion, that is what humanity is all about.


  1. Anita,
    Wow this story is incredible. Yesterday on the local news in DFW they reported that there were 100 volunteers ready to ship out from Fort Worth. When will they be joining the effort to bring releif to Oklahoma and how can I volunteer to go?

  2. Thank you so much for wanting to help those affected by the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma.

    The American Red Cross is only sending individuals who are currently volunteers with our organization and who are nationally trained.

    That being said, all volunteering with the Red Cross starts locally. If you would like to help when the next disaster strikes, consider becoming a volunteer with your local chapter. To find the chapter nearest you, please visit and type your zipcode into the search engine on the right hand side.

    Thanks for your support and we look forward to you joining our organization.


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