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FeaturesFeb/Mar 2014 Issue

Disaster Relief

Families with food allergies and asthma pull together in emergencies

Photo courtesy of Nicole Smith;  Waldo Canyon wildfires near Colorado Springs, Colorado in June 2012.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Smith; Waldo Canyon wildfires near Colorado Springs, Colorado in June 2012.

Micah Moody could sense danger in the air in Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20, 2013. With reports of an ominous tornado heading in her direction, she gathered her medication, along with some snacks and water for her kids, and took her children to the next-door neighbor’s storm shelter.

“We knew it was coming and it got really scary,” Moody says. “When it hit, it sounded like complete and utter destruction.”

Winds of more than 200 mph fiercely shook the shelter door, hurling objects against it. The tornado sucked off the shelter’s vents, showering the group inside with debris as it cut a violent path through the suburb of Oklahoma City.

When the twister finally subsided, Moody stepped outside and surveyed the damage. The entire second story of her house had been blown off and the back was demolished. Cars were perched on the roof of a nearby school with a house in flames behind it. Moody realized immediately that her family had lost their home and most of their possessions. It took her a bit longer to realize that she had lost her food.

Moody, who has an autoimmune bladder inflammatory disease called interstitial cystitis, is on a gluten-free diet to help with the inflammation. Any of her gluten-free fare that survived the tornado was covered in a soot-like substance from the swirling debris. A small tree branch driven through a box of her rice pasta drove home the point that her food was inedible.

After the twister, Moody searched for gluten-free food at food banks and church donation sites. “It was easy to find food but my kind of food was rare,” she says.

Next: Insight from Sandy

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