The Oklahoma Dental Association (ODA) has collected more than $19,000 that will be used to help the seven dentists and seven dental students whose homes were damaged by this week's devastating tornadoes.
No dentists or dental students were injured during the storms, according to the information gathered so far, but ODA President Timothy Fagan, DDS, said they haven't heard from all dentists in the affected areas.
"We have tried to reach out to every dental office in the affected areas via phone or email, but to be quite honest we haven't been able to reach everybody," he told DrBicuspid.com. "There could be others out there, but we just don't know at this point."
The ADA identified eight dental offices in the direct path of the tornados, according to ODA Executive Director Lynn Means. In total, 147 dentists and dental students work and/or live in the affected communities, including Moore, Shawnee, Luther, Carney, Norman, Del City, Valley Brook, Little Axe, and Newcastle.
Means, who graduated from Moore High School, said one of her sorority sisters lost a 7-year-old nephew; he was one of the seven children killed when the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore was flattened by the storm.
"I have friends who lost everything," she told DrBicuspid.com.
Two dentists with offices in Moore and Newcastle have not been able to reopen because electricity has not yet been restored, according to Dr. Fagan.
Dr. Fagan said he's been struck by the outpouring of support that has come in from all over the U.S.
"Over $9,000 has been contributed by people from all over the country," he said. "We've had people from California, Florida, and Maine send money. The thing that's really overwhelming is the New York State Dental Association contacted us the day after the tornado and promised to send us $10,000. In the four days since the tornadoes hit, over $19,000 has been contributed to the Oklahoma Dental Relief Fund."
Last October's Superstorm Sandy killed hundreds of people and caused billions in damages when it struck the East Coast.
The ODA headquarters in Oklahoma City is being used as a Red Cross donation site, where people have dropped supplies for the recovery effort.
"People can drop off bottled water, food, and things they need like work gloves for people who are going through the ruins of their homes trying to salvage whatever they can," said Dr. Fagan, who has a practice in Enid, about 100 miles from Moore.
ODA headquarters has a "safe" room for storms, Means said. The building is about 8 miles north of Moore, the hardest hit area.
"The sirens went off Monday during a staff meeting, so we went home; we fled," Means said. "We got in our cars because we thought it was a hail storm, which can total your car. We were just trying to take cover from that, but when I got home I heard about the tornado."
Means was also heartened by the help people have provided. Many have stopped by the ODA office with recovery provisions, including work gloves, bottled water, shovels, antiseptic wipes, and insect repellant because there's still lots of standing water, she said.
"It's amazing the way the community has rallied," Means said. "It could have been much worse."