American Red Cross volunteers distributing financial aid to those who qualify in Howard County

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KOKOMO, IND. - The American Red Cross is one of the organizations that is now offering financial support to the people of Howard County after they lost their homes and belongings to a powerful tornado. The American Red Cross has workers in Kokomo meeting with hundreds of people to give out prepaid cards with money that was raised by donations, allowing residents to get out and buy what they need at no cost.

“My garage is non existents…the kitchen is exposed. The living room is gone,” says Kokomo resident Mark Martinez.

Martinez lost his home and all of his belongings in an instant last Wednesday when a tornado ripped through Kokomo. Tearing off his roof and destroying his sense of security.

“It is sickening to know that you had worked for it and now there is not much left,” says Martinez.

On top of losing it all, Martinez does not have insurance.

“There is a lot of stuff that we have to give out of our own pocket,” says Martinez.

So, the Kokomo resident, father, and husband who is trying to keep it together for his family is now turning to the American Red Cross.

“We lost our beds, furniture, and dishes. Stuff that we need to replace,” says Martinez.

The American Red Cross has more than two dozen case workers in Howard County, working with around 250 people who need financial assistance. The case workers meet with each residents to determine what they lost and how much money the need to rebuild after the tornado.

“It depends on the type of situation, how large the family is to be able to assess how much money they will get. This week we are doing a lot of the case work,” says Duchess Ajei with the American Red Cross.

The case workers then give the residents a prepaid card with that determined amount to go out and buy the things that they need to hopefully get back on their feet.

“Whatever the basic necessities are that they need they are able to use the card for that,” says Ajei.

The money comes from donations and other fundraising efforts and is just one of the steps on the disaster relief effort or the Red Cross, to help Martinez and dozens of others who do not know where else to turn.

“Anything helps right now and every little bit that everybody has done from volunteers to our neighbors has been great,” says Martinez.

All money donated to Indiana Red Cross stays in the state for relief efforts. Already, thousands of dollars have been donated and volunteers are still getting more each day.

“Money is still coming in. The community has been remarkable with the amount of donations that have come in. So, I know that the people in Kokomo very much appreciate it,” says Adjei.

A spokesperson with FEMA says they do not plan to come to Kokomo at this time. The local and state government must finish their damage assessment before FEMA is asked to re-assess the damage to determine if residents of Howard County will receive any federal funding.

To get ahold of the Red Cross to set up a case meeting for federal funding, call 317-684-1441.

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