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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



“One of the most helpful things that we experienced in the immediate months and days after the storms was people from all over the country just sending us messages of encouragement — sending donations, but with them a card or a letter,” she said.

Mills-Knutsen said people can find ways to connect with Oklahoma residents by seeking out connections that already in place.

“We are encouraging people to reach out across the networks that they are already a part of,” she said. “If you are a church, find a church in that area and send them a message and a card and let them know about your prayers. If you are an insurance agent, or a server at a restaurant or a retail worker, find somebody within your chain or within your company and connect with them and let them know that you are there and that you are supporting them.” 

She said emotional support has a larger effect than some may assume.

“It really does make a difference,” Mills-Knutsen said. “It seems like such a small thing, but it helps to know that people all over the world are remembering and are with you and are praying for you and are thinking about you.”

With her experience working through March2Recovery, Mills-Knutsen said she knows the severe anxiety people in Oklahoma are experiencing. 

“Right in the immediate aftermath, people are relieved to be alive and anxious about people they have not heard from,” she said. “People are very likely in a state of shock and will be for some time to come. We saw that here when we were working after the March 2 [2012] tornadoes. People are learning how long it is going to take for this recovery to happen.”

She said survivors of the EF-4 March 2 tornado are still being moved back into their homes 15 months later and expects that process to continue for six more months

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