Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Okla. Teamsters dig out after deadly tornadoes -- again

(UPDATES to ADD FINAL graf urging contributions to the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund.)

Local 886 Teamsters are once again contacting all their members to make sure they're all right after a second series of deadly tornadoes struck Oklahoma City two weeks after the first.

"We're checking on the new ones that could possibly be affected out in the El Reno area," said Local 886 President Ron Cobb. Members whose homes were damaged or destroyed are being visited by the local's business agents, retirees or an ABF member who also serves as a reserve police chaplain. At least a dozen Teamster homes were totaled and several dozen were severely damaged.

Friday's tornadoes knocked out the power at Teamsters Local 886 in Oklahoma until Monday. "Three of us were still here and we had to stay until we could get out," Cobb said.

The latest storm caused massive flooding in Oklahoma City. Cobb said drowning was the cause of death for most of the 18 fatalities:
They were telling people to get underground. A lot of people, a bunch of them, crawled into culverts. It was just a humongous amount of rain so they were washed out of the culverts. 
The local is giving $100 MasterCards to members who lost everything and need money just to put gas in the tank to get to work. The local is also helping them fill out FEMA forms to receive federal disaster relief and maintaining a volunteer list. Teamsters are among the many, many volunteers hauling debris, driving forklifts and loading and unloading supplies.

Two Teamsters scheduled to drive forklifts for seven hours in the Red Cross warehouse last weekend finished in five. "They sent everyone else home because the Teamsters were so quick everyone else was getting in the way.

Cobb plans to round up 15-20 Teamsters over the weekend to help clear away the remnants of one member whose home was demolished.

You, too, can help by making a tax-exempt contribution to the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund. Just click here.