Three months a year, Red Cross Emergency Volunteer Larry Fortmuller is on call, ready to meet the face of disaster anywhere in America within 5 hours. One year ago, he got the call to fly from Orange County, California, to Moore, Oklahoma.
"You could stand out there in field that used to be homes," Fortmuller recalls, "and it was like a freeway that's just cluttered with garbage. It was a very scary sight."
The EF5 tornado ripped through 17 miles, killing 24 people including 9 children at an elementary school.
The Red Cross was there within hours, giving out food and water to people in need. In the months to come, the Red Cross never left. Since the storm, the organization gave school teachers money to rebuild classrooms, communities money to restore water wells, and families help in building more than 1500 storm shelters for people starting over.
"These are the things we can do to build the resiliency of that community as they begin to rebuild everything else about their lives," he says.
He wants others to rest assured that the money is being put to good use -- every penny.
"We raised 50 million dollars through the generosity of the American public," he explains, "and we've committed 48 million of that already to help that community rebuild."
The Red Cross spends 91 cents of every dollar on disaster preparedness and recovery services.
"The Red Cross is extremely efficient," says Fortmuller, "those wells, those school children who got classroom supplies, are all paid for by the generosity of the American public and we really appreciate it."
Fortmuller was an emergency responder in Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and countless other disasters. He says every dollar counts.
To donate and to learn more, visit www.redcross.org.