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In this May 5, 1995 file photo, a large group of search and rescue crew attends a memorial service in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Bill Waugh / AP Photo

Richard Williams just walked out of a meeting in the Murrah Federal Building on the morning of April 19, 1995. He was talking with a colleague when the blast went off. It’s the last thing he remembers.

“I was dug out by an Oklahoma City policeman, taken to the university hospital where they treated me with triage and subsequently follow-up surgeries and physical therapy and all those kind of things for years,” Williams said.

Disasters like the flooding that has followed Hurricane Harvey, displacing thousands of people, always create a tremendous need for help — and a tremendous desire to provide that help.

But those who have dealt with disasters before say people need to be careful about how they contribute to disaster relief, and when. Cash donations are almost always preferred over items — such as blankets, clothing and stuffed animals — often sent into overwhelmed disaster areas by well-meaning donors.

This post was updated at 1:45 p.m. ET.

The search continues in Oso, Wash., for victims of the massive mudslide that swept through about 50 homes and properties on March 22.

In the wake of any natural disaster, there are almost always shortages of fuel. Even in the United States, gas stations shut down during blackouts because there's no electricity to run their pumps.

It was no different in the Philippines, where practically no fuel was available after Typhoon Haiyan struck. Aid agencies said the lack of gasoline was a major impediment to relief efforts.

One small American nonprofit called the Fuel Relief Fund is trying to change that.

Update at 7:15 p.m. ET. Two Deaths Reported:

The El Paso County Sheriff says that two bodies were recovered Thursday in the burn area of the Black Forest fire near Colorado Springs. A "coroner investigation is ongoing," the department says.

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Held together by a common goal to protect vulnerable disaster survivors and a deep commitment to respectful conversation, 50 diverse, non-profit and faith-based disaster response organizations found a way through divisive religious issues to develop national standards in disaster spiritual care.

The Rev. Mary Hughes Gaudreau speaks on the subject as part of the first Re-mind and Re-new conference at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa.

The conference was designed to model ways of disagreeing, find common ground, stay in relationship and do important work together despite deep differences.