The mighty tornado that roared across Moore, Okla., on May 20 killed 24 people, including 10 children.

Two schools were reduced to rubble, along with a hospital and as many as 13,000 homes.

Survivors of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding could identify.

It was painful to watch coverage of the Oklahmoa disaster, the loss of life and the terrible destruction — especially the sight of bewildered people standing amid the remains of their homes, now nothing but debris.

Within days, West Jefferson Medical Center had organized an effort to collect donations for the victims.

The drive will continue until June 21, when all funds will be turned over to the American Red Cross.

“Members of our hospital family — this is not uncommon for what they do. They’ve responded time and time again to victims of natural disasters,” said Jennifer Steel, R.N., community liaison officer and executive director of the West Jefferson Hospital Foundation. “They want to pay it forward, thinking about the care and concern that they received around the country after Hurricane Katrina.”

The foundation is accepting cash donations to the Oklahoma fund in the hospital’s Guest Services area.

Make checks payable to West Jefferson Hospital Foundation, 1111 Medical Center Blvd., Marrero, La., Suite N-201. To donate by debit card or credit card, visit For additional information, call (504) 349-2051.

City sends help

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has reactivated the NOLA Pay It Forward Fund for New Orleanians to contribute to recovery efforts for the tornado.

Landrieu launched the fund in May 2011 to contribute to recovery efforts following the Mississippi River flooding disaster, and it has been maintained to assist other communities in need. It is housed with the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Those interested in donating to the NOLA Pay It Forward Fund can go online to or contact Allie Betts at the Greater New Orleans Foundation at (504) 598-4663.

The fine art of cooking

Cooking is an art, no more so than here in New Orleans.

So it shouldn’t be a big surprise to find cooking demonstrations going on at the art museum, should it?

At 6 p.m. Thursday, Cafe NOMA at the New Orleans Museum of Art hosts a demonstration, tasting and nutrition tips by Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group’s Chef Chris Montero. The focus is this month’s “eat local challenge,” a campaign by area farmers’ markets to encourage people to cook and eat foods grown within 200 miles.

The museum’s cooking lesson will feature garlic shrimp with a tomato basil rice pilaf. The dish uses all local ingredients: fresh Gulf shrimp, Plaquemines Creole tomatoes, Louisiana brown rice and fresh garden basil. Hungry yet? This event is free; call (504) 897-8500.

Annette Sisco is community news editor. Contact her at or (504) 432-9257.