Recently one of our grantee partners in Oklahoma, who has been tracking disasters in the state since March 2015, shared that disasters requiring assistance from outside the local community occur every 12.4 weeks. This is not shocking to those of us who’ve noted the increased frequency and strength of natural hazards over the last several years. It is both a confirmation and an explanation of the exhaustion and stress that Oklahoma organizations working to help communities and households recover are feeling.

On April 19, 2023, more communities were added to the list of areas needing outside resources when eight tornadoes caused three fatalities in Oklahoma. As damages from the storms are assessed, and needs are revealed, CDP will continue to support communities as they work towards equitable recovery for all.

I (Cari) have been engaging communities after disasters in Oklahoma since the Central Oklahoma tornadoes in 2013. Some of you might remember the devastating Moore tornado from that time, but I remember visiting multiple small communities outside of Oklahoma City and Moore that were also affected by storms but received less attention.

Since 2013, I have been building relationships throughout Oklahoma with individuals and organizations involved in disaster recovery at all levels. Since joining CDP in 2019, I’ve had the opportunity to strengthen old relationships and build new ones. CDP’s Midwest Early Recovery Fund has awarded 17 grants totaling $1.4 million since 2015 in response to tornadoes, floods, wildfires and winter storms. These established relationships and partnerships mean that we are already supporting communities impacted by the April storms and will be able to identify needs and potential new local partners more efficiently over the next few months.

Four tips for supporting equitable recovery

In early April, I (Cari) had the opportunity to travel to Oklahoma to visit grantee and philanthropy partners across the state with Sally Ray, whose history and relationships in Oklahoma are much deeper than mine. We want to share some of our learnings with you and invite you to join us in supporting communities across the country that are struggling to recover.

  1. Trust local place-based funders
  2. Invest in capacity, talent & wellness
  3. Listen to the local community
  4. Make sure recovery is holistic

Read the full article about equitable recovery by Cari Cullen and Sally Ray at The Center for Disaster Philanthropy.