Red Cross Asks Missourians to Donate to Tornado Relief

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COLUMBIA - The Heart of Missouri Red Cross spent Monday preparing to help those hit by Sunday's deadly tornado in Arkansas.

Heart of Missouri Red Cross Executive Director David Griffith said the chapter expected an aid plan to be in place by late Monday afternoon or early Tuesday morning. He said the best thing for mid-Missourians to do is to donate cash. Griffith said anyone wanting to donate specifically to relief efforts in Arkansas should include a note in the memo line of a check about their specific wishes.

Griffith said the Red Cross established two shelters in Arkansas and volunteers are providing food, shelter, and comfort to both the victims and first responders. He said the Arkansas chapters will first bring in volunteers from its own area and then reach out for additional support once needs are identified.

"If it gets to a larger magnitude or if those folks need additional help then we'll start deploying volunteers from other chapters," Griffith said.

Griffith reminded mid-Missourians to not pack up and go directly to the tornado sites. He said having extra people without training in an area where security measures are tight can create additional problems in an already volatile area.

"We want to try and keep those who need to be in the area, in the area there. Those who don't need to be there, don't need to be there at this particular time." He said. "There will be time for them to come down and help to rebuild during that recovery process."

Red Cross chapters across the country are expected to aid Arkansas and other states hit by tornadoes in the coming days. Griffith said he expected a plan to come from the national office in Washington, D.C by Monday afternoon.

"If they need something, they'll call us. They know we are here to support them," he said.

In addition to the Red Cross, often times during disaster situations like tornadoes the task Missouri Task Force One from Boone County Fire Protection District Force responds. Gale Blomenkamp said as of late Monday morning, Missouri One Task Force would not leave for Arkansas. He said the task force is needed in Missouri where severe weather is also expected. He said the Texas Task Force One departed for Arkansas.

Donations can be sent to the Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter at 431 E. McCarty Jefferson City, MO 65101.

In preparation for a tornado in mid-Missouri, the Red Cross encouraged everyone to have a "go bag" with food, water, and flashlights in an accessible place. The Red Cross also has several smart phone applications to alert residents to potential disasters.