Georgia prepares to send help to Oklahoma


Volunteers spent Tuesday morning loading up an 18-wheeler with pallets of water, roofing materials and other items tornado survivors will need right away.

ATLANTA - Gov. Nathan Deal told Channel 2 Action News that the state is prepared to help out in any way it can for the victims of  the Oklahoma tornadoes.

Channel 2's Lori Geary spoke to Deal Tuesday moments after he attended a rally at the Capitol.

"As a state, we will stand ready to do whatever is possible," Deal told Geary.

He said he and the state's emergency management officials have reached out to their counterparts in Oklahoma, ready to help as soon as they get the call.

"It does look like we may be able to assist with a temporary hospital-type facility. That appears to be one of the greatest needs," Deal said.

It's an area where Georgia has experience after a tornado ripped through Americus, Ga., in March 2007.

The twister destroyed Sumter Regional Hospital, shredding parts of the façade, blowing out windows, leaving patients and hospital personnel in shock.

The devastation at Moore Medical Center in Oklahoma looks similar to the damage at Sumter Regional, when doctors and nurses had to work out of tents provided by state and federal agencies.

Georgia's Emergency Management Agency told Geary the state will send people to help rebuild Moore Medical Center if asked.

"It is important for states like ours, as you indicate, to know what a tornado can do. Certainly the magnitude of this one is greater than what we have had in a very long time," Deal said. "We all send our prayers and our support to the people who are suffering in Oklahoma."

As the state prepares to help out with the recovery effort, the American Red Cross is also mobilizing its volunteers to help with the Oklahoma disaster.

The Red Cross has five major storage hubs in Fulton County. Channel 2's Dave Huddleston was with volunteers loading trucks at their 100,000-square-foot facility in Union City.

The facility houses cots, blankets, and toiletries like shampoo and razors, so volunteers can be ready to help in a moment's notice.

Huddleston met up with metro Atlanta Red Cross volunteer Ann Foote, who is heading to Oklahoma to help the victims.

"It's heartbreaking," Foote told Huddleston after seeing the pictures of the devastation from Moore, Okla. "My adrenaline is rushing right now. I want to hurry and get on the ground and do the things that I do best."

Foote said she will coordinate volunteer logistics.

Volunteer Tim Hayes is waiting to drive a Red Cross emergency vehicle to Oklahoma.

"They are prepared for either hot or cold food service and storage," Hayes said.

Hayes said once the emergency response vehicle arrives, they can feed as many as 200 to 300 people per meal.

Foote said she will be in Oklahoma for at least 21 days.

Channel 2's Sophia Choi was with volunteers with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Tuesday as they packed up tractor-trailers full of supplies that are headed to Oklahoma.

Volunteers spent Tuesday morning loading up an 18-wheeler with pallets of water, roofing materials and other items tornado survivors will need right away.

"These people lives have been put on hold, and we want to just come in and help them move on with their lives as quickly as possible," Mike Ebert with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief said.

Dan Yackel told Choi he will be behind the wheel of the tractor-trailer for the nearly 900-mile trek from Alpharetta.

He's just one of half a dozen local volunteers headed to the tornado-ravaged area.

"We want to be in there as quickly as possible to give them the means they need to help them get through this," Yackel said.

Along for the ride will be his wife Bonnie and their service dog Chloe, who will lend comfort.

"She's just a wonderful dog to be pet by people. She will like them and show them she loves them just as much as everybody else does," Bonnie Yackel said.

Once the initial team of volunteers assesses what's needed, more volunteers from the Atlanta area will head to Oklahoma to join them, along with others from around the nation.

The group is 85,000 strong across the country.

"The toughest thing is just the human tragedy part of it. So the first thing we ask people to do is just to pray," Ebert said.

And along with those prayers, volunteers are sending Bibles and teddy bears for the kids. The team hopes to arrive by Thursday.