My husband went to Joplin the day a tornado ripped through there 2 years ago (he helped establish emergency cellular phone service). There will be stations set up ASAP where people can swap out cellular batteries, stations for computers, stations for food and water, and stations where they can do laundry. God is SO good in His provision of the wonderful services provided from AT and T, Tide, Samaritan’s Purse, Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.
The BEST thing anyone can do right now is first pray, and then send money to a reputable place such as Samaritan’s Purse, the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. DO NOT gather clothes and/or food…you will NOT be able to get in there. The above places already have tractor trailers and human resources who have been trained and are already on their way.
My husband witnessed firsthand how people just dropped off bags and bags of clothes in parking lots because they didn’t know where to put them; much of these got thrown away because rescue and clean up efforts come first. When the 1999 tornado happened, about a month later I went to Oklahoma with my kids to help. We worked in a “store” where people could pick up donated clothing and household items. We actually folded and paired up socks the entire time we were there. The lady in charge explained to me what a BIG mess it was the first couple of weeks: people dropping off stuff, clothes everywhere, no organization. She said that dropping off clothes and household items too soon made it more difficult to organize. She explained how people who lost their homes live in shelters for awhile, so they DO NOT NEED household items or very much clothing (something I didn’t realize either). Rescue and clean up is the first thing needed, and Americans, who have such a giving heart, just want to get in there and drop off things right away…we want to do SOMETHING, but in our desire to help, we can actually make it more difficult for those already on the ground working.
If you want to do something and do NOT have cash, organizations suggest you have a garage sale instead of donating all your unwanted clothing and household items. Wait a week or two and donate your time if you can. People will be needed to work in area churches and other places as volunteer centers are set up.
Here are some links showing how clothing is NOT needed right now: