Choctaw Nation provides aid to Tushka, OK tornado victims - - No One Gets You Closer

Choctaw Nation provides aid to Tushka, OK tornado victims

Durant Casino Resort employee Shawn Lyday, right, delivers hot meals to two Tushka residents affected by the April 14 tornado. (Photo by BRET MOSS, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) Durant Casino Resort employee Shawn Lyday, right, delivers hot meals to two Tushka residents affected by the April 14 tornado. (Photo by BRET MOSS, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma)

DURANT, OK (Press Release). – Though the April 14 tornado in Tushka lasted only minutes, the effects of the devastation felt by the residents will be long lasting. The storm, which the National Weather Service rated an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, affected 237 homes in the small town in southeastern Oklahoma. Of the homes affected, 33 will need repairs, 47 will need major repairs before they will be livable, and most heartbreaking, 149 were completely destroyed. Of these homes, only 42 percent were covered by insurance, leaving many families in Tushka wondering what to do next.
Almost before the storm cleared, an outpouring of family, friends, churches, and numerous non-profit and governmental relief organizations were pulling into town to provide aid to their neighbors in need. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is proud to be one of those able to answer the call as well, providing aid to storm victims by offering resources for food, water, supplies and services, and will continue to do so for as long as needed.
The Choctaw Nation is committed to helping the entire community during this time of need. It is offering assistance at the Incident Command Center. Due to the weather, on April 19 the Incident Command Center will move to the Tushka Baptist Church. A few of the services offered there are free meals, free water, assistance with clearing drives and roadways, as well as support with other vital needs of the community.
With 2,700 people left without electricity in the days following the storm and no way to cook a hot meal, the Choctaw Nation took to feeding families and volunteers in Tushka. Choctaw Nation employees have been grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, even delivering the warm meals to families, when needed. In the first 24 hours alone, the Choctaw Nation served more than 1,000 meals. Currently, they are giving out approximately 1,200 hamburgers and hotdogs each day.
While the Choctaw Nation is providing support to residents where it can, it has found it can also make a large impact by helping the aid organizations that are there to help as well. It has fulfilled requests from the Red Cross, churches and other organizations on the ground by providing $3,000 in large tarps and four generators to meet medical needs. The tribe delivered eight pallets of water over the weekend and has ordered another 10 pallets of water to be delivered today. It also made a donation to the Voca Baptist Church for enough lunch sacks, sandwich bags, and chips to make 4,000 sack meals to get through the next several days. Currently, the church is giving out approximately 800 sack lunches per day.
The Community Center in Atoka was also turned into a temporary shelter over the weekend, providing a place to stay for many displaced families. The tribe also held a clothing drive to help those who lost everything in the storm. The clothing drive was a huge success and the need for clothing has been met at this time.
"The minor things the tribe can help with like bottled water and food – we are happy to provide to everyone affected by the storm – Indian or non-Indian," said Chief Gregory E. Pyle, referring to the community assistance the Choctaw Nation has been offering the victims of the storm disaster.  The debris removal, free meals, ice, tarps, and immediate aid provided with boarding up windows and doorways blown out by the tornado are only part of the help mentioned by the Chief that the Choctaw staff had been able to provide.
For those wanting to help out, officials say monetary donations will make the biggest impact. The Choctaw Nation has set up tornado relief fund for those who would like to make a contribution. Donations can be made by calling Mandy Lawson at 580-271-1758, or in person at the tribal complex at 529 N. 16th in Durant.
The tribal clinic in Atoka will be open until 8 p.m. all week, and employees will continue to volunteer so that the clean-up process will persist and so that the free meals will continue being served.