These are your best options to aid tornado victims in Rowlett and Garland
In the aftermath of a string of deadly tornadoes that swept across the Dallas area on December 26, Rowlett city manager Brian Funderburk has advice on the best places for those making donations.
Rowlett was one of the cities hit the hardest, suffering 23 injuries, although no fatalities. Approximately 854 homes were damaged, including 148 that were totally destroyed.
In Garland, more than 1,000 homes were damaged and eight people were killed in traffic accidents on I-30 and the George Bush Turnpike when a tornado flipped their cars in the air.
Garland streets south of I-30, east of Peninsula Way, and south of Locust Grove were closed due to downed power lines and the possibility of leaking gas; some areas remain closed.
Funderburk said that Rowlett would begin clearing streets and right-of-ways of debris and stressed that a curfew in the affected areas will remain in effect.
"Only emergency personnel and residents will be allowed in the area and only if it is safe," he said. "We are asking non-emergency personnel to stay out of Rowlett. We still need the roadways clear for emergency and recovery operations."
On December 27, roads in Rowlett and Garland were clogged with onlookers curious to see the damage. There has also been at least one questionable "animal rescue" organization soliciting donations.
A group called Operation Rescue Paws claimed to be working with FEMA and with established rescue groups in Dallas, including Operation Kindness.
"We have approved boots on the ground with Operation Kindness looking for animals in the disaster zone," the group claimed. But Operation Kindness quickly issued a statement that they were not affiliated.
"We would like to clarify that we are not partnering with Operation Rescue Paws," the Operation Kindness statement said. "Our CEO, Jim Hanophy, has personally reached out to the Rowlett Animal Shelter and offered assistance. We are not on the ground in Rowlett and are following the appropriate protocol."
Funderburk said that the Rowlett Animal Shelter is accepting displaced pets. Citizens who have lost or found an animal are encouraged to call 972-412-6219.
He directed those seeking to make donations to the Red Cross and encouraged residents to follow the advice of Mayor Todd Gottel by entering their name at the Red Cross Safe and Well website to let family and friends search the list of those who have registered themselves as "safe and well."
Two websites have been established to coordinate rescue efforts: one for Garland and one for Rowlett.
WFAA also has a complete list of sanctioned organizations that are coordinating rescue efforts.