In the aftermath of two days of destructive tornadoes that roared through Oklahoma, relief agencies around the nation are mobilizing to render aid.
In Colorado, the American Red Cross' Mile-High regional headquarters in Denver and Pikes Peak chapter in Colorado Springs stand ready to help.
Two leadership team members from Denver traveled to Moore, Okla., Tuesday morning to assess the situation and call back for volunteers, equipment and supplies as needed, said Bill Fortune , Pikes Peak chapter public affairs volunteer.
The communities in Oklahoma will look for regional aid initially, but as the scope of the disaster becomes clear, Fortune said he expects the call for more volunteers will come.
"We are all prepared to respond immediately," Fortune said. "When we lived through Waldo Canyon last year, everyone came to our aid. We must do the same for them."
For people trying to get in touch with family and friends in the disaster area, Safe & Well is an online service offered by the Red Cross. Fortune said everyone who calls the Pikes Peak chapter looking for survivors in Oklahoma will be directed to the Safe & Well website, at bit.ly/9ZwlyY .
Donations to the Red Cross and other agencies saw a significant surge Tuesday, but Fortune said the public must be aware of scams.
"The best way to help out is to donate to agencies like the Red Cross directly," Fortune said. "We guarantee that 92 cents of every dollar go straight to relief efforts."
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a statement Tuesday morning encouraging everyone to donate through the Red Cross.
"We need to stand with our neighbors to the east in Moore, Oklahoma, who yesterday suffered unthinkable devastation," Hickenlooper said. "Our thoughts go out to the victims of this disaster, and our thanks to the community leaders, first responders, and to folks like you, who step up to help in times of need."
Other local relief efforts include:
- The Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association is collecting donations for the Oklahoma victims. Springs residents can drop off storage containers - suitcases or backpacks will do - along with any-size pet crates, at the Freedom Financial Services Expo Center at 3650 North Nevada Avenue. Checks can be sent to HBA Cares, 4585 Hilton Parkway, Suite 100, Colorado Springs, CO, 80907. Donations can also be made online at www.cshba.com.
- Three Colorado Springs running stores are collecting new or slightly used running shoes for tornado victims. Items should be dropped off by noon Friday at: The Boulder Running Company, 3659 Austin Bluffs Parkway; The Colorado Running Company, 833 N. Tejon St., or Runners Roost, 121 N. Tejon St. Or you can donate cash to help with the effort at PikesPeakSports.us.