COLUMBIA, SC — South Carolina disaster relief teams remained on alert Tuesday to assist victims of the Oklahoma tornado, but for now the word from their Oklahoma counterparts was this: Send financial donations, but hold off on food, clothing and volunteers.
Right now, they are saying please let the first responders do their job, said Cliff Satterwhite, vice-chairman of S.C. VOAD, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, and the longtime director of the states Southern Baptist disaster relief operation. South Carolina personnel and volunteers, whether they work with the Red Cross, Salvation Army or faith organizations, should know in three or four days whether they will be needed, said Satterwhite, who retired from his position with the S.C. Baptist Convention but remains as an adviser.
Many of the states emergency rescue personnel are participating in a massive emergency exercise this week in the Lowcountry, overseen by the S.C. National Guard. In an email, the head of the Oklahoma VOAD, urged other states to begin taking inventory of all available resources, personnel and volunteers that may be called on to assist. The S.C. Baptist Convention has 141 teams, ranging in size from 4 to 44 people, that can be deployed to provide meals, chaplaincy services, child care and debris removal, among other duties.
Tuesday night, the Palmetto SC region of the Red Cross updated its activity, noting that the agency has now deployed three volunteers, two to Oklahoma and one to Washington to assist with Oklahoma tornado relief from the Red Cross Disaster Operation Center.
In 1999, Southern Baptists responded to a devastating tornado in the same area of Oklahoma, although it cut a much narrower swath through the community of Moore. Satterwhite noted that states close to Oklahoma now have significant Baptist disaster relief operations that can come to the aid of victims of natural disasters. He said South Carolina Baptists have been deployed most recently along the East Coast aiding victims of Hurricane Sandy, with one team returning home this month.
HOW TO HELP
To make financial donations to assist the Oklahoma tornado victims:
Salvation Army: www.salvationarmy.org. Text STORM to 80888 to make $10 donation. To make a donation by phone, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. If youre sending a check make sure you put the words Oklahoma Tornado Relief on the check, and mail it to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK. 73157.
Red Cross: www.redcross.org. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief or donate online. To make a donation by phone, (800) RED CROSS.
Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Go online at bgco.org/donate. To make a donation by phone, call (405) 942-3800.
South Carolina Baptist Convention. Go online at scbaptists.org/dr. To make a donation by phone, call (803) 765-0030.