As soon as the twister hit Moore Monday, one local organization knew it had to go and help. On June 2, volunteers with Heroes for the Homeland will drive more than 1,300 miles into the disaster zone. Until then they’re collecting critical donations and asking for your help.
“It was a no-brainer,” says Chris Johnson, the founder of Heroes for the Homeland. “We have to go.”
That was the initial response for Johnson, a local police officer, who also heads the non-profit organization.
“It’s terrifying to know that this magnitude of storm can decimate an area,” he says.
Moments after the Oklahoma tornado touched down, group members began organizing resources and supplies for victims and fellow first responders.
“We’re trying to help the first responders there so they can get back on their feet faster and turn around and help their community,” Johnson says.
The local volunteers are no strangers to tough times, including Betty Mints, a retired Prince George’s County Police captain. She remembers what happened during 9/11.
“I was with the Special Operations Division,” she says. “We were sending people out to take care of the public, but the officers who were going out had to leave their families to do it.”
When the group formed in 2012, they were first put to the test when Sandy destroyed parts of New York and New Jersey. This time the plan is to stay longer, arrive later, and help with the recovery.
“They’re going to have a lot of donations immediately,” Johnson says. “It’s the weeks, two weeks, three weeks after… when those start depleting and they’re going to need other supplies.”
The items are starting to come in, but donations are still being accepted.
“Chainsaws, generators, extension cords, anything like that,” he says. “The smaller items, work gloves, trash bags, cleaning supplies.”
On Thursday, the group will be holding a fundraiser in Crofton at the Irish Channel. A portion of the sales will be donated to the recovery efforts.