Knoxville Red Cross volunteers respond to latest Oklahoma storms

Knoxville Red Cross volunteers respond to latest Oklahoma tornadoes


6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A group of American Red Cross volunteers from East Tennessee was in Oklahoma Friday night when even more deadly tornadoes rolled through the state.

They've been helping with recovery from the massive EF5 tornado that devastated the area less than two weeks ago.

The volunteers say this latest string of twisters means they're going to be staying a lot longer than originally thought.

John Manners was Knoxville's first Red Cross volunteer to arrive in Oklahoma weeks ago.

6 News spoke to him when he arrived.

He's been there ever since, and had to take shelter during last night's tornadoes.

"Not only are we out here helping people, but now we're part of these new storms as they come rolling through," said Manners.

New damage from Friday's tornadoes calls for a new plan of action for these volunteers.

Saturday morning, Manners and six other Red Cross volunteers from East Tennessee left Moore, Oklahoma and traveled to the town of El Reno, which was hit hard in Friday's outbreak.

Manners says homes have been shifted off their foundations.

"Barns and horse trailers and travel trailers that are torn apart and wrapped around trees or telephone poles," said Manners.

The volunteers have been riding through the debris-cluttered streets on an emergency response vehicle.

"They took half a dozen of us up this morning and put us on trucks to go help supplying people in the field. We're out there looking for anybody with medical issues," said Manners.

They're also going door to door to hand out food and water to people who have no power.

Hand sanitizer and eye wash are also being passed out.

"The wind is still kicking up pretty good. There's a lot of debris blowing around," said Manners.

Major flooding from the storms is making it hard to reach everyone in need.

The National Weather Service says eight inches of rain fell Friday night.

"The water across the roads is running about three or four feet deep," said Manners.

The volunteers from Knoxville had planned on staying in Oklahoma a few more weeks, but now it could be a lot longer than that.

Manners says Oklahomans need help now more than ever.

"They're ready to get back at it. They are Oklahoma strong," said Manners.

It will likely be months before the American Red Cross leaves the area.

They've got several emergency shelter set up around Oklahoma City.

Manners says donations have been pouring in from around the country, but they still are in need of more to purchase supplies.

For more information on how you can donate, visit the American Red Cross website.

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