May 2013 Tornadoes and Floods Disaster Recovery Report: One Year Update

United Way of Central Oklahoma is compelled to support disaster response and recovery efforts as part of our Community Preparedness focus area. The donors who contributed to United Way’s annual fall campaign allowed our Partner Agencies to be prepared to immediately respond and meet the needs of those affected by the May 2013 tornadoes and floods.United Way Partner Agencies were on the front lines when the May storms struck central Oklahoma and will continue to participate in the long term recovery efforts meeting the needs of disaster survivors.

In response to this disaster, United Way of Central Oklahoma activated its disaster fund effective May 20, 2013 to facilitate donations directly to the relief and recovery efforts. United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund dollars are distributed without administrative fees to United Way Partner Agencies and collaborating non-partner agencies actively engaged in the disaster recovery within our jurisdiction.  Agencies must clearly prove services provided and demonstrate need for financial support. Organizations that receive United Way disaster fund assistance are evaluated and held strictly accountable.  The May Tornadoes Relief Fund serves the immediate, intermediate, and long-term needs of those impacted by the storms occurring May 19-31.

The United Way May Tornadoes Disaster Relief Disbursement Committee, which includes members who live in some of the disaster areas, continues to meet regularly to review the funding requests submitted by vetted nonprofit agencies that provide services to meet the needs of those affected by the tornadoes and floods. By accepting disaster relief funds, these agencies agree to provide follow-up reports on the number of clients served and the measurable outcomes associated with the services provided. These reports and outcomes are required above and beyond what they are already asked to provide during our annual Community Investment application process. Furthermore, the agencies are also required to demonstrate a need for continued financial support throughout the recovery process. If funding is no longer needed by one agency, their funds will be re-allocated to another agency with a demonstrated need for continued and/or additional funding. 

During times of disaster, we know that many United Way Partner Agencies work closely with non-partner agencies. If these non-partner agencies collaborate with United Way agencies to provide assistance to survivors following a disaster, and find that they are in need of funding, United Way will provide funding with the understanding that they meet the same reporting standards as Partner Agencies.

United Way of Central Oklahoma is committed to financial transparency and accountability.

United Way of Central Oklahoma will not apply an administrative fee to the May Tornadoes Relief Fund in its jurisdiction.

United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Fund Update:

  • To date, the United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund has received approximately $15.6 million in pledges and donations.
  • The OKStrong fund has received approximately $4.6 million in pledges and donations. Because of United Way’s commitment to transparency and accountability, Governor Mary Fallin appointed United Way of Central Oklahoma to administer the OKStrong Fund to meet the long-term needs of the survivors of the 2013 May storms.
  • Together, the two funds have spent or committed approximately $9.4 million toward the relief efforts. 

The break out of disaster fund dollars spent and types of needs met within the services provided:

Immediate Needs:  $1.4 million - Clothing, food, appliances, furniture, household goods, housing assistance (hotel stays, rental deposits or first month’s rent, utility deposits), transportation assistance (automotive repairs, rental cars, insurance deductibles, gas vouchers), debris removal expenses, etc.

Health/Mental Health: $3.6 million - Mental health assessment and clinical/therapeutic services such as counseling, individual and group therapy, family therapy, support to first responders, emotional and spiritual care services and community presentations and workshops such as Helping Children Cope, Mental Health First Aid, and Trauma Training.

Legal/Financial Services: $610,000- Legal services for disaster impacted clients such as assistance with contractor disputes, FEMA appeals, securing lost identification and ownership documents, settling insurance claims, enforcing tenant rights, etc. Examples of financial education and counseling services for disaster impacted clients includes financial analysis and coaching, credit report repairs, budgeting, working with mortgage company advice and foreclosure prevention services.

Repairs/Rebuilding: $3 million - Includes costs associated with doing home and mobile home repairs and or rebuilding such as building materials, contractor services, storage, permits, volunteer management, etc.

Goods & Other:  $800,000 - Support of in-kind donation distribution sites that provide donated goods to those impacted by the disaster, ex. House in a Box program. Replacement of lost curriculum and program supplies and a helmet program for Moore Public Schools.

United Way of Central Oklahoma and its community partners have always relied on the 2-1-1 hotline for social services, physical and mental health care. With an increased call volume due to the May 2013 disaster, United Way of Central Oklahoma funded an upgrade of Heartline’s IT capacity to be positioned to meet the ongoing needs of the disaster survivors and recovery efforts. Programs like these will empower people and the community to get back on their feet and rebuild.

We would like to thank the media for assisting the recovery efforts in getting the word out about how disaster survivors can still get help.  We are depending on their continued support as we move forward to meet the needs of those affected by the May 2013 storms.

Please let those who have been impacted by the May 2013 disaster know:

“If you need help with recovery or just need someone to talk to, please call 2-1-1.”