Within hours of the devastating tornadoes in Missouri and Minnesota last night, emergency agencies like the American Red Cross and AmeriCares were on the scene.
The tornado in Joplin has claimed at least 89 lives and left thousands homeless. Relief workers are working to provide help and access damage. Phone lines and other forms of communication has been disrupted because of storm damage.
"The first 48 hours of an emergency are the most critical," AmeriCares Vice President of Emergency Response Ella Gudwin said. "AmeriCares pre-positions emergency relief supplies so we are ready to respond to disasters around the world and across the United States at a moment's notice."
AmeriCares is preparing deliveries of medical supplies to the impacted zones. The agency already supports those who are uninsured and underinsured in Joplin and Springfield, Missouri through their U.S. Medical Assistance Program.
In Joplin, Missouri over 100 people stayed at a Red Cross shelter set up at Missouri Southern State University. Emergency shelter supplies like comfort kits, tarps and cleanup supplies are in the process of being moved into warehouses to affected areas. Health and mental health workers are also on route.
In addition to supplies the Red Cross is bringing in an emergency communications vehicle due to damage sustained on area infrastructure.
"Our thoughts and sympathies are with those who lost loved ones or have suffered through these deadly storms," said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. "The Red Cross already has people on the ground to help in these communities, and we have more on the way today."
Joplin, MO - Rangeline Tornado Damage
Catholic Charities is in the preparation stage of offering relief efforts to those in Joplin. The agency is known for staying at disaster scenes for a long period in order to provide extended help for disaster victims.
"This has been an absolutely brutal Spring Storm season in the U.S. and now our hearts are saddened once again and our resources tested by this disaster in Joplin," said Kathleen King, SVP of External Relations for CCUSA. "From the earlier tornadoes in Alabama, to the recent flooding, to this downtown devastation in Missouri--the human need is huge and donations are essential."
Verizon Wireless is sending three temporary cell towers to Joplin to provide emergency wireless calling capacity and coverage in the area.
The Humane Society of Missouri has deployed a disaster response team to Joplin to rescue and shelter pets affected by the tornadoes. Fifteen members of the Disaster Response Team including a veterinarian will canvass the areas affected to search and rescue injured and displaced pets.
The Joplin Animal Control is operating an animal shelter on the campus of Missouri Southern State University where the Red Cross is also sheltering survivors. Those at the Red Cross shelter can place their pets in the animal shelter. The HSMO Sheltering Team also will set up and operate a separate emergency shelter with the capacity to care for several hundred pets of persons who are not being sheltered at MSSU.
At this time, monetary donations are encouraged. Persons wishing to make donations to assist animal rescue efforts can do so at www.hsmo.org.
To donate, go to www.AmeriCares.org or call 1(800) 486-HELP.
People can list themselves on the Red Cross Safe and Well site by visiting www.redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) where friends and family members outside of the affected areas can search for loved ones.