Many houses along Rolfe Avenue in Harrison Twp. continue to bear the scars of the EF4 tornado more than five months after the storm. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart
Photo: Chris Stewart

Red Cross: Cash assistance deadline extended for tornado survivors

Victims with destroyed or damaged property may be eligible for $850.

The Red Cross has extended a deadline for survivors of Memorial Day tornadoes to apply for $850 in cash assistance.

Victims with destroyed or damaged property now have until Feb. 13 to sign up. The original deadline was Thursday.

More than 1,100 individuals and households that experienced major damage or destroyed property and were previously assisted by the Red Cross should have received text or email notices, said Marita Salkowski, the American Red Cross’ regional communications director for the Greater Cincinnati Dayton Region.

FIRST REPORT: Red Cross: Email, text offers of cash to tornado survivors is no scam

Some people who received the notices beginning Jan. 23 thought the offer might be a scam.

“People obviously want to take proper precautions, but … it is in fact legit,” Salkowski said.

Entry to the program now closes at 11. p.m. on Feb. 13. If people already entered into the Red Cross database inadvertently deleted the texts or emails, they should call the Dayton Red Cross office at 937-222-6711 to get back on track for the cash assistance, Salkowski said.

Individuals and households not previously assisted but whose property was destroyed or had major damage can still receive the cash assistance by registering with the Red Cross. They will also need to contact the Dayton office and will be asked to provide documentation attesting to damage.

MORE: Tornado recovery resource guide

‘For real?’

People on a Facebook group, Tornado Relief #937, at first questioned whether the offer was legitimate.

“I think it may be a scam. Please do not give out personal information,” wrote one group member.

Another responded: “Are you sure these messages are from them for real?”

Lisa Kidd was so skeptical she nearly deleted the text, but apprehensively following the link and is glad she did.

Her Red Cross case number appeared, as well as prompts leading through a few questions about her unmet needs.

“It never asked me anything like my Social Security number, so that’s when I began to feel a little more safe with it,” she said.

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Kidd continued through the prompts an answered multiple-choice security questions based on information she’d previously provided the Red Cross.

After that, she was given the option of receiving the assistance three ways: through a PayPal account, debit card account or in person at a Walmart location.

“I didn’t want to give them my debit or PayPal, so I said I would just pick it up at Walmart,” Kidd said.

The house Kidd lives in with her 9-year-old son, like others on the Trotwood street not far from Hara Arena, was damaged in the most destructive tornado to hit the region Memorial Day night.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Walking the Path of the Storm

They are living with broken windows and a front door held together with duct tape and under a damaged roof and cracked ceiling “that looks like it could give any day,” Kidd said.

“I’m dealing with that right now. I’m trying to relocate,” she said. “That $850 has been a huge blessing to me. It was right on time and very much needed.”

The $850 per household now being distributed was donated toward the Dayton area tornado response and not spent during the initial disaster phase, Salkowski said.

“The whole idea is that we want to make sure we honor donor intent, and if people give to a specific disaster, that money actually makes it to those people impacted,” she said. “Now we’re going back and looking at a pool of money, and we’re giving it out again.”

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