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Area groups send people, supplies to tornado-stricken town

Organizations from around the area headed to Moore, Okla., on Tuesday to help the city recover from Monday’s tornado that destroyed property for miles and killed 24 people, including nine children.

“We are in full disaster mode,” said Joodi Archer, development & media director of Matthew 25: Ministries in Blue Ash. The ministry sent its disaster response team armed with supplies. “What I personally hope to achieve is that I’m making a difference to help those whose world has been shattered.”

The Matthew 25: Ministries disaster response team is working with Procter & Gamble to send personal care products, clothes, First Aid supplies and nonperishable food to victims.

“The team will take an initial load of supplies and is hoping to set up distribution (Wednesday),” Archer said. “Our plans were to be closed for Memorial Day weekend, but that may change. We’re waiting to see how urgent the needs are (in Oklahoma) and what volunteers come in to help,” Archer said.

Volunteers are welcome to work at the Matthew 25: Ministries facility on Kenwood Road.

Evan Schumann, program manager for Ohio Task Force 1 and a member of the task force’s Incident Support Team, was deployed to the area to help coordinate the activities of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Urban Search and Rescue group, according to Dayton’s Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Payne, who also serves as the sponsoring agency chief for the task force. Schumann will also act as a liaison between the task forces deployed to Moore and officials from all levels of government.

Payne said he doesn’t believe that task force will be deployed because task forces for Nebraska, Texas and Tennessee have been deployed to Moore.

The Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Region of the American Red Cross flew two volunteers from the Dayton area to Moore to help with health and mental health services, according to Soteria Brown, Red Cross spokeswoman.

“We are ready to send more at a moment’s notice if there is a need,” Brown said.

Red Cross is also accepting financial donations to help aid the victims. Donations can be made by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or visiting online at, or donors can text “Red Cross” to 90999 for a $10 donation.

St. Vincent de Paul in Cincinnati is collecting personal care items, toiletries, cleaning supplies, first aid supplies, blankets and baby care products, along with financial donations, which can be made online at www. St. Vincent de Paul will be partnering with Matthew 25: Ministries to deliver the donations to Oklahoma.

Donated items can be dropped off at the West End Outreach Center,1125 Bank Street in Cincinnati or any of the Cincinnati-area St. Vincent de Paul thrift shops.

“What we collect is all going to be sent directly to St. Vincent de Paul conferences in Oklahoma,” said Eric Young, community relations manager. “We want to support our volunteers. We know how hard the volunteers are working in Oklahoma right now. We know many of them are putting in their own time and we want to help out.”

The tornado passed within three miles of Tinker Air Force Base, according to the Air Force. The base is part of the Air Force Material Command, which is headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Tinker sent about 50 airmen in 12-hour shifts, a dozen firefighters with fire vehicles, and buses, Humvees and lighting platforms to aid the rescue and recovery, Wright-Patterson officials said. An Air Force surgeon was sent to the Oklahoma University Medical Center as well.

“We know that some of our people (assigned to Tinker) actually live in that town and were impacted by that incident,” said Col. Douglas Wise, an AFMC crisis action team director at Wright-Patterson who is involved with directing the relief effort.

There are 75 communications National Guard units in the U.S., one of which is based at the Springfield Air National Guard Base. While the 269th communications squadron has not been deployed, unit commander Maj. Steve Dudash said the services such units provide are key for making sure the multiple agencies responding to disasters have a way of communicating with one another.

“We can provide connection to the internet, connection to commercial phone services, as well as some of the military networks,” Dudash said. “When those big winds and storms come through it’ll take those cell towers out and it’s usually three to five days before the providers are able to get in there and restore some of those. We can come in and within three hours of us being on site we can get communications established.”

The communications unit includes a large trailer, which can be deployed within a matter of hours. It includes a large satellite, radios and the equipment needed to get outside phone lines working and link all first-responders together who may be using different radio frequencies and signals, Dudash said.

Every unit that will be sent to Oklahoma will have its own role. Sometimes, having to stand on the sidelines when people are still trapped is the hardest part, said Sgt. Nathan Luckey, telecommunications technician for the 269th squadron.

“We have our part to play in the big picture but it is kind of difficult to stand back when something like this does happen,” he said.

It’s likely operable systems in Oklahoma are bogged down with people trying to reach family and rescuers. Dudash said even with the added support of a communications unit, people should remember to keep phone calls short so as not to tie up the lines for all those trying to use the system. He said knowing what to do ahead of a storm is also key.

“It’s important to have a plan so if something like this does happen you know how you’re going to communicate,” he said. “It makes it a whole lot easier.”

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