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On Monday, May 20, I was preparing a shipment of tetanus vaccine for an Oklahoma town struck by a tornado a day earlier when our team received the first alert about a massive tornadothat had just leveled Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City.
From our experience, we know that when an EF5 tornado hits a metropolitan area, local clinics and shelters will need our emergency medical and relief supplies. AmeriCares Emergency Response team immediately began contacting our partners in the Oklahoma City area to learn the extent of the damage; we made calls and sent emails through the night until it was time to leave for our 6:00 a.m. flight to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
After driving from Tulsa for over an hour, traffic on the highway into Moore suddenly came to a stop. Destruction lined both sides of the road: homes were splintered, trees stripped of leaves and branches, and wreckage littered the ground. I’d never seen anything like it.
It’s hard not to be affected by the devastation and personal of stories of people you meet. I spoke with residents sifting through piles of debris that had been their home, happy to salvage just one family photo. One woman wondered where a friend would deliver her baby now that Moore Medical Center was destroyed. I met social workers who were attending funerals to provide support for grieving families.
For more than two weeks, I remained in Oklahoma, making sure that our medicines and relief supplies got to where they were most needed. For survivors, access to quality medicines and health care can change a life. That’s my focus every day, but at the scene of a disaster like Moore, Oklahoma, I was living it every moment.