Oklahoma relief gears up as warning issued about scam charities

Early local efforts to provide relief for Oklahoma tornado victims were taking shape Tuesday as experts warned the public to beware of scam charities.

Three local Red Cross disaster responders have deployed from the Palmetto SC Region. Two will be on the ground in Oklahoma and the other responder will support logistical operations in the Disaster Operation Center at the Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Red Cross anticipates that more volunteers from this area will deploy in the coming days. All volunteers and vehicles are on stand-by.

“This has been a major disaster,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer. “If you can help, we encourage you to make a financial donation today.”

Contributions may be made at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. Donations help provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by the tornado.

The city of Charleston has contacted the U.S. Conference of Mayors and is waiting to hear back about what resources are needed in the Moore, Okla., area.

The S.C. Emergency Management Division has yet to receive a request for aid through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

“We don’t want to send anything spontaneously without them asking for it because we don’t know what they need,” said spokesman Derrec Becker.

The organization Scambook issued an alert Tuesday for people to be wary of those who will try to take advantage of the heightened emotions surrounding natural disasters and tragedies.

Con artists will be hard at work creating fraudulent charities that they say are related to providing relief for the Oklahoma tornado victims.

Scambook advises that people restrict their donations to the Red Cross, United Way of Central Oklahoma or AmeriCares.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.

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