Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Remember, Connect & Give: The April 3 DFW Tornado Outbreak, One Year Later

by Amy Yen, Digital Communications Manager, American Red Cross

April 3 DFW Tornado Outbreak
Infographic: Click to enlarge
One year ago today, the Metroplex got a scary reminder of what it means to live in tornado alley. Multiple tornadoes touched down, causing large-scale damage in Lancaster, Forney, Arlington and other areas. While miraculously, there were no fatalities, more than 1,000 homes were damaged and the American Red Cross was there to respond.

“That was my first disaster. I had only been with the Red Cross for three months when those things hit,” recalled T.D. Smyers, Regional CEO for the North Texas Region. Wanting to see for himself how his new organization operated during disasters, he went to Lancaster with the Red Cross disaster response team.

“I got to see up close and personal the devastation Mother Nature had on the community. People started coming out of their homes, looking at all the damage, and then I saw a beacon of hope coming up the street. It was a Red Cross feeding truck. Everyone was so glad to see our volunteers providing meals for everyone from the side window. It was a privilege to witness our mission in action.”


Looking back at the disaster a full year later, it’s sometimes hard to remember that some families are still recovering. Hundreds of homes were completely destroyed, and hundreds more damaged. In the immediate aftermath, many families stayed at Red Cross shelters while the clean-up process began.

T.D. Smyers visited a shelter in Lancaster and was struck by the reaction of the residents coming in. 

“When the tornadoes struck, most people were caught completely unprepared. People whose homes were hit were in despair, with nowhere to turn because they never thought about where they would stay or what they would do in a situation like this,” he explained. “To see them show up at the shelter and be greeted by Red Cross staff, who showed the face of friendliness and professionalism, saying ‘we’ve got you covered’—that was such a relief to those people. Seeing the impact that my organization had in real human lives was extremely gratifying. I carry it with me to this day.”

In total, the Red Cross served nearly 41,000 meals and snacks, distributed more than 6,100 relief items, provided nearly 200 mental health consultations and opened four shelters while responding to the tornadoes. Some 600 Red Cross relief workers were involved in the relief effort with 90% of them being volunteers. 

“As we commemorate this anniversary date, I’d like to ask other to join me in remembering the families who are still in recovery,” said Smyers. “And remember how the Red Cross responded to the needs in our own community instantly. That’s what your support allows us to do.”


Whenever there is a disaster like this, we are always thinking about how we can make the community better prepared in the future. One way to be prepared is to connect with us via our social networks, where we are constantly working to post the most up-to-date information about what’s happening in our community—whether that’s preparedness tips when the sky is blue, weather alerts as they happen and shelter and food service locations afterward.

“We’re proud of our social media presence,” said T.D. “I think it’s a vital part of our communications. It’s really the way to stay updated on the latest information we have.”

You can connect with us on our Facebook page and on Twitter @redcrossdfw.

Another easy way to stay prepared is to download our mobile apps, which are designed to put Red Cross tools and information directly in your hands. Here in tornado alley, the Tornado app, which sounds a siren when a tornado warning is in your area, can actually save your life by warning you of danger when you might not be monitoring the weather. In a situation like last year’s tornadoes, which occurred in the middle of the day while many people were at work and not watching the weather, it can make a world of difference.

All Red Cross apps are free and available now for iOS and Android devices. Find download links here.

“We know that people who were connected to our social feeds a year ago were able to learn what was happening around them and alert others,” T.D. reflected. “Those connections helped to save lives and with our new series of apps, it’s going to be even easier to get lifesaving information into people’s hands when they truly need it.”


As we remember the destruction that our community experienced last year, we continue to look to you to help us be ready to respond when the next time disaster strikes. Last year, we ran low on clean-up supplies, leading to a delay in getting supplies out to people as they tried to clean up the wreckage. This year, we’re trying to build up our storm supply inventory, so we’ll have enough ready to provide the next time they are needed.

“The Dallas/Fort Worth area is among the most disaster-prone regions in the United States. We’re in tornado season and we’ve depleted some of our supplies that we need to be on the shelf and ready to go at a moment’s notice,” explains T.D. “People are always saying they want to help and they’re always very generous with wanting to donate so we’ve put together a list of items we’re needing and hoping that our supporters can help us out.” 

Please donate to our Storm Supplies drive all this week at DFW Red Cross locations. See details here.

As always, we are also looking for your help however you can give—donating, giving blood or volunteering. Learn how you can help at

1 comment:

  1. I need to write you a check, where do I send it?
    Mitch Baumann


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