• Cindy Fuller

Assessing the Aftermath: Salvation Army Tours with National FEMA Director in Devastated Areas in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, OK (April 30, 2024) – National FEMA Director Deanne Criswell toured the damaged areas in Marietta and Sulphur, Oklahoma to personally view the destruction left from Saturday’s storms. “Our hearts go out to those who lost family members, this is such a tragic incident, but we also hear about the bravery of the first responders and thank them for everything they did in the trying hours” said Deanne Criswell, FEMA Administrator. Director Criswell, along with many other representatives from the government including Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, walked the streets of downtown Sulphur, where many businesses were either destroyed or heavily damaged.  The Salvation Army was honored to be invited by State Director for Oklahoma Emergency Management Annie Mack Vest to participate.

As the group walked down the streets, surrounded by destroyed businesses and watching people trying to salvage pieces of their lives, they heard firsthand accounts from survivors, which provided a deeper understanding of the impact on the community. Laurie Fried, Divisional Director of Disaster Services for the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division of The Salvation Army reflected, "Businesses are the lifeblood of a community. They not only provide essential goods and services for daily lives, but they also employ a significant number of residents. The loss of so many businesses will have a dramatic effect on hundreds of lives. So many families live paycheck to paycheck, this will have a significant impact on their daily lives having possibly not only lost their income, yet their living quarters as well.”

The group concluded the tour at the Artesian hotel to meet with Chickasaw Nation, Governor Bill Anoatubby.  He met with the group to share impacts of the storm on the Chickasaw Nation and offer their support to recovery.

The Salvation Army has been on the ground and in the neighborhoods providing food and hydration to responders and survivors since Sunday morning immediately following the tornadoes.  They are closely collaborating with federal, state, local, and tribal emergency management, VOAD and other partners to assess the needs of the affected areas. They are committed to working with their partners to bring hope to the community for better days ahead.

Financial donations can be made at www.helpsalvationarmy.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY to support response efforts. For the latest Salvation Army disaster information please go to www.disaster.salvationarmy.org and watch for regular updates on our social media pages at www.facebook.com/salvationarmyaok/ and www.twitter.com/salarmyeds and www.twitter.com/salarmyedsaok.