Teamsters helping out in Oklahoma City

This was a Teamster house before the tornado struck.

This was a Teamster house before the tornado struck.

Don’t send water and don’t send clothing to Oklahoma City if you want to help the victims of the deadly tornado.

That’s the advice of Teamsters working on the disaster relief effort. They’re urging members to donate to the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund, every cent of which will help people in need. (Click here to make a tax deductible contribution.)

Oklahoma City officials are saying 12,000 houses were damaged or destroyed by the tornado, one of the worst in history. Teamster Local 886 President Ron Cobb said at least 12 Teamsters’ homes were destroyed and 16 were damaged.

We’re still in the stages of identifying need and touching the people we can touch.

Members whose homes were simply damaged are saying, “I just lost half a roof, take care of these other people,” said Cobb.

Both the local and UPS are taking care of the UPS package car driver who suffered the loss of his wife and the serious injury to his son. Cobb said he plans to put an ABF member who is also a police chaplain on lost time so he can reach out to members hurt by the devastating storm.

Brother Roy Gillespie, who coordinates the Red Cross response from St. Louis, said the agency is scheduling Teamsters to work in the Oklahoma City warehouse this weekend. They’ll load and unload supplies. A call for forklift drivers earlier this week sent Cobb to the warehouse, where he said they were still in the initial stages of getting organized.

In Tulsa, Local 523 has trailers set up in car lots around the city. President Gary Ketchum is telling members to buy something extra at the grocery store and put it in those trailers.

Cobb emphasized there’s no need for water in Oklahoma City. “They’re using cases of water for doorstops,” he said.

Anyone who wants to volunteer should check with the local or the Red Cross first. Said Gillespie:

Send the local an email (rcobb@teamsterslocal886.com) or call (405) 947-2333. Or contribute to the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund.  The worst thing you want to do is have a drive without checking with Ron.

Stay tuned.