Where tornado relief donations are going


Nearly a week after deadly tornadoes struck southern Indiana, the recovery effort is in full swing.

The post office in Henryville is back in service. School officials are exploring two possible temporary school sites where 1,200 students can finish out the school year.

Also, FEMA representatives have toured tornado ravaged Henryville to document the damage. Their records will help the governor make a case for a presidential declaration. The state must prove up to 400 homes were damaged.

Thanks to your generous support, the WTHR Cares Hoosier Tornado Relief drive has raised more than a half-million dollars. The money will go to the Red Cross, but Eyewitness News wanted to find out how those donations were being spent. We headed to southern Indiana Thursday to find out.

On Thursday, Henryville resident Fran Hahn was picking up free meals from the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle. The meals would not be possible without donations.

"They come and say, 'I need to help,' and out of the pockets comes money," she said.

The bountiful money taken in by the Red Cross since last Friday also pays for tarps, blankets, medical supplies and hot meals.

The Red Cross stresses what you give to Friday's tornado disaster relief is being used for just that.

"That is just our policy. We are very transparent about that and people can rest assured that they will be helping folks in need," said Ann Gregor, Red Cross spokesperson.

Case workers are set up at shelters to help survivors.

In all, 28 Red Cross workers are using donation dollars on a case by case basis for housing, health care needs or to issue debit cards so residents can purchase items.

"That would be what prescriptions have you lost, medical devices, all sorts of things like that," said Gregor.

The Red Cross will keep emergency response vehicles in the area as long as necessary.

"I believe we've served about 20,000 meals and snacks so they have been busy," said Catie Wheatley, Red Cross field worker.

"There is so much love and concern. God is truly amongst all these people," said Hahn.

With hundreds of thousands of dollars donated since the tornadoes, the Red Cross stresses no family should go without the help they need.

So far, the Indiana Attorney General's consumer protection division says there haven't been any complaints of scams related to the storms. But they warn potential donors to beware of unsolicited requests for money from organizations with names that are similar to those of reputable charities.

Also, check with a group like the Better Business Bureau before making a donation. Finally, pay by credit card if possible, because they can offer protections against fraud.

Make a donation today by visiting Red Cross, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.