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Media May Muddle Disaster Relief Drive Efficiency

Nov 19, 2013
News 9 archive

Six months after tornadoes devastated the Oklahoma City area, we’re looking back this week at the role of private donations in the recovery effort. 

When the storms hit, the media were some of the greatest sources for information. They assumed authority, provided immediacy and acted as a clearinghouse for the influx of data. But in part two of our series today, we investigate whether the media’s response was as efficient as it seemed to be. 

Kate Carlton

Six months after a series of devastating tornadoes touched down in Central Oklahoma, we’re taking a look back this week at the recovery effort.  In the aftermath of the storms, private charities raised close to $70 million, and tens of millions more in in-kind donations poured into the region.  But some of that aid was more helpful than others.   

In part one of our series today, we look at local businesses who donated their proceeds and the balance between good public relations and an altruistic desire to help.

Airman Magazine / Flickr

The Norman Regional Hospital Authority has approved plans for a new, 100,000-square-foot, $28.8 million facility for the town of Moore, which was hit by a devastating tornado in May.

The five-story medical center will offer emergency and outpatient services, as well as lab, imaging, ultrasound and X-rays.

The Norman Transcript reports the new facility is slated to open in 2016.

Kate-Lynn Walsh

Katie Western practices her lines for the upcoming National Weather Festival. She’s majoring in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and is one of the festival’s Weather Friends, a group of superheroes representing each kind of severe weather. Katie’s character goes by the name “Swirl Girl.” She’ll run around in a costume and answer questions about tornado preparedness.

And even though it’s fun, Katie realizes her role may be more important this year than it has been in years past. 

hyku

Kathy Turner works with Take Shelter Oklahoma.  The group wants to build safe rooms to protect students from tornadoes like the one that destroyed Briarwood and Plaza Towers Elementary Schools in Moore.  Turner says her experience as a former school administrator showed her how important government funding can be.  

Kate Carlton / KGOU

Kristy Yager is the Public Information Officer for Oklahoma City.  She’s used to creating game plans for emergencies.  So when May 20 came, she made her way to a bunker with emergency managers, police and a handful of city officials.  She’d prepared for the crisis as best she could, but found herself overwhelmed trying to handle the influx of media requests.

“The minute that tornado hit the ground, I started getting national phone calls from everyone, from Fox, from CNN, from ABC, NBC, CBS,” Yager said. “I was having a very hard time managing the calls.”

Kate Carlton / KGOU

Danni Legg transferred her two kids to Kelley Elementary this past August. She moved them from Plaza Towers Elementary, after the tornado in May destroyed the school, causing the death of her middle child, Christopher, along with six other students. Legg says returning to Moore after the tragedy was something she did for her children.

"I wanted my children to understand the town didn't kill their brother," Legg said. "A tornado and the lack of good construction in the building is what killed their brother."

Kate Carlton / KGOU

After tornadoes tore through the state last May, Oklahomans were eager to offer help. Four months later, some groups have closed their doors and moved on, leaving people stuck in red tape with nowhere to go. Recently, the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project opened its doors to the 2,500 individuals still trying to navigate their way through the recovery process.

The results of a statewide survey released Thursday show 62 percent of Oklahoma’s 1,804 public schools don’t have storm shelters, and only 15 percent have shelters built to withstand the 250 mph winds of an EF5 tornado, like the ones that swept through central Oklahoma in May 2013.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Two organizations in Central Oklahoma will receive more than half-a-million dollars from the U.S. Department of Commerce as part of its Economic Development Administration grant program.

The City of Moore will receive $300,000 to hire a disaster coordinator develop strategies during the rebuilding efforts after May’s devastating tornado. The job will also be responsible for managing disaster assistance at the federal, state and local level.

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