May 21, 2013 12:27 AM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Local Red Cross ready to help Oklahoma tornado victims

Even though the deadly Oklahoma tornado hit almost 1,500 miles away, it still affects us here at home, emotionally, if not directly through loved ones who are there. The American Red Cross, as always, is ready to help.

"The first time you go to help people, it changes you forever. Your heart is changed," said Paul Deis, Emergency Services Manager for the American Red Cross Central Coast Region.

Deis said the organization is there for everyone in the country. If one area hits a low, that is when it is their job to help pick up the pieces.

He said, "Right now we've called out to people to confirm their availability to deploy in case we get deployment requests tonight and tomorrow."

Deis said there are two main ways we here on the Central Coast can help. He said you can donate money to the American Red Cross, which will go towards helping the victims in Oklahoma. The second way, Deis said, is to become a volunteer.

"In the initial part of the disaster, volunteers will be sent to help with feeding and sheltering and client case work, which is to evaluate people's needs, so we can figure out what we can do to help them in their needs," said Deis.

Deis said there is a long road ahead for the residents of suburban Oklahoma City- a stark reminder that disaster can strike anywhere at anytime.

He said, "Well always be prepared to take care of yourselves for a week. Have five days of water, five days of food."

Deis said on top of water and food, in case of an emergency, everyone should have a plan of a family meeting spot and have medications ready. He added that those on the Central Coast should be aware that we are in wildfire season and always in earthquake season.

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.

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