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May 22, 2013

Area agencies prepare to provide tornado relief

2012 Southern Indiana tornado gives special connection to victims in Oklahoma

JEFFERSONVILLE —

As footage of the Oklahoma tornado continues to fill many television broadcasts, some of those affected by the deadly storm that tore through Northern Clark County in March 2012 are feeling an eerie familiarity.

But, it is that familiarity which has provided a unique insight to the needs of the survivors of the devastating Oklahoma tornado.

The Rev. Jennifer Mills-Knutsen of St. Luke’s church in Jeffersonville serves as the chair of March2Recovery, the leading relief organization of last year’s tornado.

“We learned quite a bit about what was most helpful to us in the aftermath of the tornadoes,” Mills-Knutsen said, adding that encouraging words are more valuable than household goods for those left distraught by tragedy.

“In the aftermath of the storms, there were piles of clothing and toiletries and even canned goods, and especially things like furniture and household goods. There really is no place to handle them or no system in place to distribute them to the people that actually need them, so those kinds of things may be needed, but certainly not until further down the road,” she said.

Mills-Knutsen said feet on the ground will be more useful in the following months and years instead of the time directly following the devastation.

“Right now we have to let the professionals do their jobs in terms of clean up,” she said.

She said donations of food and housewares and willing volunteers are helpful, but that need is not yet realized on a large scale in Oklahoma.

“People will need that kind of help. They just don’t need it yet,” she said. “It will be another month or three months or six months before they are really ready to welcome volunteers, and then they will need all they can get.”

She suggests people in the area who are inclined to provide assistance to those suffering in Oklahoma to donate to relief organizations and to send thoughtful correspondence to the victims. 

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