Hamilton County businesses open call center to help those affected by tornado get money

CARMEL, IND. – The American Red Cross has received hundreds of requests for money from people affected by the tornadoes in Kokomo. Now, two businesses in Hamilton County have opened up a call center to answer those phone calls and have already helped to drastically cut down on the wait time for people in Howard County.

Volunteers at the call center in Carmel are speaking with hundreds of people who were hit hard by the powerful tornadoes that ripped through Kokomo, offering financial support to those that lost everything.

“What I’m calling for today is to get some additional information so that we can get a case for you in order to better serve you and see what additional assistance might be available,” said a volunteer on the phone.

The American Red Cross volunteers are employees of CNO Financial group and The Cellular Connection.

“Instead of having a case worker go out to Kokomo, our associates call the people. It shortens down the process and gets them the aid more quickly,” said SVP and Chief Information officer for CNO Financial Group Brad Bodell.

Each employee offered up their time to give a helping hand to the hundreds of people who do not know where to turn next.

“It has been the people that were hardest hit and lost everything. They are living in one room houses and another woman was living out of her car,” said volunteer Michael Judge.

The volunteers ask the people what they lost, if they have insurance, and how many people in their household were affected by the tornado. Then, they pass that information along to case workers in Kokomo who give out the money.

“The people get a prepaid card with money that they need and it depends on their family size and a lot of other factors. From that, they are able to really focus on their immediate needs and get food and shelter,” said Duchess Adjei of The American Red Cross.

The volunteers are helping get people back up on their feet, eliminating hours of lines at the shelter in Kokomo where people go to pick up their financial aid from the Red Cross.

“It is the difference between living with nothing and getting the chance to move on,” said Judge.

The Red Cross says the disaster relief effort in Kokomo will cost more than $500,000. The group has collected $450,000 and money is still coming in. Just like the phone calls for help.

“Their opportunity to move forward is based on what is coming out of this call center and the case workers in Kokomo,” said Judge.

If you need to get a hold of the American Red Cross for financial assistance, call (317)-684-1441.