Darlene Soper woke up Friday morning with her life in a complete whirlwind.
Four days had passed since an EF3 tornado with 152-mph winds pummeled her home, as well as 480 other houses and a dozen commercial buildings in Oak Grove.
“The stress was so overwhelming, I looked outside and I didn’t know how I was going to get through it,” said Soper, who along with her daughter visited a multiagency resource center that opened Friday to aid residents.
Soper met with several representatives from among the 20 government and nonprofit agencies stationed inside the First Baptist Church youth center. While there, Soper and her daughter met with workers from the Missouri attorney general’s office and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
“And then we came here, and I just felt hope,” she said. “The stress is just, like, pouring out of me, and I feel so much better.”
The resource center is a coordinated effort between the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities and the city of Oak Grove. Red Cross caseworkers work with affected residents to identify and connect them with resources that might help them through the recovery process.
The resource center at 400 S.E. 14th Street in Oak Grove will be open for only two days. It remained open Friday until 7 p.m., and will be operating from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Free child care services are available.
“A lot of times when people come through a disaster like that, it is unsettling to know where to go or what resources they might need,” said Duane Hallock, a spokesman for the Red Cross office in Kansas City.
“They don’t even know where to go in a lot of these circumstances,” Hallock said.
Residents affected by the storm can receive help with debris removal, legal and insurance information, emergency financial help, food stamp replacement, and referrals for mental health and wellness.
Rick Parr showed up Friday just to see what resources could help him and wife.
Powerful and debilitating winds from Monday’s tornado ravaged his family’s home. Years of mementos, clothes, furniture and personal items were gone in an instant.
“You are thinking about how do I find my stuff, how am I going to live after this point,” Parr said. “What do I do next? I think this will help a lot of people, they just come and talk to the individual and they can tell them those types of things.”
Residents can also receive referrals to mental health services, said Aren Koenig, disaster-resiliency director for Catholic Charities of Missouri.
“People are pretty overwhelmed right now with the amount of assistance they have or are overwhelmed trying to coordinate their personal recovery,” Koeing said. “So a lot of people are in that shocked phrase or trying to run in 20 different places.”
Convoy of Hope and Heart to Heart International were on hand to provide cleaning supplies, blankets, water, pet food, hygiene kits and other items.
On Saturday, the American Red Cross will be providing cleanup supplies to Grandview residents affected by the storms. Items such as rakes, shovels, trash bags, work gloves and tarps will be available from noon to 3 p.m. at Meadowmere Elementary School, 7010 136th Street, which is west of Byars Road, south of Highgrove Road.
Legal assistance and crisis counseling will also be available.