AmeriCares, based in Stamford, announced that it would be sending a disaster response team to Oklahoma City to coordinate deliveries of relief supplies and medical aid for survivors of the massive tornado that ripped through Moore, OK, on Monday afternoon.
"We expect to have a team on the ground in Oklahoma in the morning, assessing needs and coordinating deliveries," said Garrett Ingoglia, AmeriCares vice president of emergency response.
AmeriCares has been delivering medical aid and humanitarian assistance to millions of people around the world that have been affected by natural and man-made disasters.
Three team members from AmeriCares left their Stamford headquarters around 3 a.m. on Tuesday.
They were on the ground in Oklahoma by 10 a.m., immediately heading to the disaster zone so they could start providing assistance to the folks who need it the most.
"Our team bought one-way tickets down there, so they'll assess the needs and stay as long as we need to," Ingoglia said.
AmeriCares officials said disaster teams have responded after hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires in the United States, including an ongoing $5 million Hurricane Sandy Relief program.
After seeing the video of widespread devastation and hearing the first-hand accounts, Ingoglia told Eyewitness News it could be a while.
"There are people trying to find loved ones. People trying to find a place to stay, their homes have been destroyed, they're traumatized," he said. "And our team, their job is to find the partners on the ground that can do the most good quickly."
The organization already ordered 30,000 bottles of water for a regional food bank in Oklahoma City.
The team down in Oklahoma is also working with nonprofits like healthcare centers and free clinics to provide much needed medical supplies and medicine such as the tetnus vaccine.
From their Stamford warehouse, those supplies will be loaded up and shipped to this hard hit community right outside Oklahoma City.
"The Moore Medical Center as you may have heard was severely damaged," Ingoglia said. "All the patients were evacuated, so we'll be looking to see if we can restore the health care services in the area."
It's one step in what will surely be a long, slow recovery process.
"Longer-term medical needs in terms of restoring the healthcare and medical system and then there's also the mental health issues that arise especially for the children in the schools that were damaged so badly," Ingoglia said. "So we know the recovery is going to be months if not years and we'll help as long as we're needed."
AmeriCares told Eyewitness News especially in times of disaster such as this, they can always use your help.
"I think everybody should get involved in any way that they can, contribute to aid organization and send your thoughts and prayers to the people in Oklahoma," Ingoglia said.
For more information, or to donate to the AmeriCares Disaster Relief Fund, click here.
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