Several people were killed after a tornado ripped through Oklahoma this weekend. Now western New Yorkers are heading down to help out.
“This is an area that’s been hit over and over again over the past few days,” said Jay Bonafede with the American Red Cross, WNY region.
While dozens of families are left picking up the pieces after devastating tornadoes hit parts of Oklahoma during the holiday weekend,
dozens of Red Cross volunteers are making their way there to help.
“Whether it’s a single-family house fire or something wider scale like a Hurricane Michael or what’s happening right now in Oklahoma, it’s devastating for those people,” said Bonafede.
Volunteers are heading down not just to offer assistance to those without a home, but to support their mental health during this tough time. Jay Bonafede, who traveled to Oklahoma Monday, says many volunteers are specially trained.
“They’re social workers and they’re able to just kind of help really normalize things a little bit for people. We hope there’s no loss of life but even if there’s not there’s loss of everything in the blink of an eye and it’s just a very difficult, stressful, emotional time,” said Bonafede.
Bonafede says right now volunteers are focusing their efforts on shelters to help those in some of the hardest hit areas such as El Reno and Tulsa.
“Our disaster mental health workers are available at pretty much all of our shelters and certainly through our case work of follow up,” said Bonafede.
Emergency crews are now watching the weather as flooding could become a concern. That’s why Bonafede says for many victims of diasaters, sometimes the worst damage isn’t seen.
“It’s something that we need to help people work through so it’s part of their recovery is to understand and kind of normalize that to work through that,” said Bonafede.
Bonafede says he’ll be in Oklahoma for almost two weeks. He says other volunteers from western New York may join him depending the specific need there.