KCUR News
9:03 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

Area Agencies Respond To Joplin Disaster

Kansas City, Missouri – Area service agencies mobilized immediately in response to the F4 tornado that tore through Joplin last night.

The Red Cross is providing emergency supplies to disaster victims.

Duane Hallock with the Kansas City Red Cross says the agency has an emergency blood drive from 2 to 7 PM today to help with medical needs. Also, he says the best way local people can help is by sending financial support to service agencies. The good intentions of those who want to travel directly to the disaster site, he says, are misguided."They will be competing with disaster victims and emergency personelle for water , for cell phone band width, even for lodging."

Those who need immediate information regarding referrals for food, shelter, or about loved ones can call the United Way. The United Way has a 2-1-1 number that connects Missourians directly to disaster responders. In areas where the 211 number is not operational, citizens can call 800-427-4626.

Heart to Heart International already has volunteer medical professionals and a Mobile Medical Unit in Joplin.

The Kansas City, Missouri Health Department is pulling staff together for needs that may arise later. Spokesman Michael Hershberger says medical professionals and environmental safety inspectors are among them; "Environmental inspectors look at shelters or provide general environmental safety inspections if there is structural issues."

The state of Missouri is also coordinating efforts.

Those with medical skills interested in volunteering should go to wwww.showmeresponse.org

Missourians wishing to make donations to help with the relief effort can call (800) 427-4626 or 2-1-1.

Residents affected by the tornado who wish to notify their friends and family that they are safe should go www.safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php./

Friends and family who would like to check on their loved ones in the affected area can use the same site. Missourians who need disaster information, shelter information or referrals are urged to call 2-1-1. The United Way's 211 service number is now available for most areas in Missouri. In areas where the 211 number is not operational, citizens can call 800-427-4626.