After an EF-4 tornado killed 24 people as it ripped through Moore, Okla., on May 20, relief workers sprung into action to help the survivors pick up the pieces. Among those helping victims are members of Occupy and the online hacker group known as Anonymous, which coordinated relief efforts in some of the outlying areas that received less attention from traditional agencies.
President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in Oklahoma last week, making federal funding available for affected areas. Federal relief workers are on the scene in Moore and traditional relief agencies like the Red Cross are in the area helping victims.
Those in more rural areas report that there has been little relief, pleading to the public for help. Responding to the call is Operation Oklahoma Relief, an online project run by Anonymous that has helped direct volunteers to Shawanee, Okla., and other towns hit hard by the storm.
“From looking around they’re completely overwhelmed, they need help. They need a lot of the same things that big corporations have done for Moore. Not only do a lot of these people don’t have their house, they don’t have any power, they don’t have a vehicle,” said Debbie Cook, a volunteer in the Shawnee area. “They need people out in Shawnee driving the streets, asking people, ‘What do you need? What can we do to help?’ I didn’t see much on the media about people affected in this area.”
Anonymous has put out the word using social media, spreading news through Twitter under the hashtag #OpOKRelief.
“Hey Oklahomies! We Need More Hands to Tackle 12,000 FOOTBALL FIELDS of damage!” Anonymous tweeted Tuesday.”
Using a gift registry on Amazon.com, Anonymous has obtained dozens of items, including first aid kits, chainsaws, batteries and diapers.
Thirteen tornados have swept through Oklahoma since Monday’s tornado, hindering cleanup and relief efforts in the wake of the storm.
Also assisting have been Occupy members, continuing the relief work that began after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Occupy Wall Street was launched fall of 2011 as a protest movement opposed to corporate greed and banking policies that the group believes were the cause of the 2008 financial collapse and the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression.
After encampments across the country were evacuated and protests fizzled, some activists turned to relief work during Hurricane Sandy.
Occupy activists continue to update a collaborative document called PirateBin, connecting volunteers with relief agencies. Occupy Norman at the University of Oklahoma continues to post addresses for shelters, first aid and CPR instructions, and lists of supplies that are needed. Some of the most urgent are “toiletries, sleeping bags, chainsaws, wheelbarrows (and) trash cans.”
Occupy Norman frequently updates its Facebook page, leading response efforts in underserved areas of Oklahoma.
“We’re meeting at Pecan Valley Junction gas station. Volunteers in this area are needed badly, it has been underserved for many days. Chainsaws, axes, and other equipment are needed, but anyone can help clean up debris and search for salvageable belongings,” Occupy Norman posted Monday.
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