Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Disaster Relief: My Perspective

My grandma survived the May 3, 1999 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, but it was finals week of my freshman year in college, and I could not go and immediately help.  By the time I made it there, several months later, much had been accomplished and the devastation was not as harsh or visible.

The May 20, 2013 tornado is currently being classified as the worst tornado in the history of America...maybe even the world.  Here are just a few pictures of the destruction.  I had them rotated the correct way, but the first one is uploading sideways for some reason.  Sorry about that!

The first picture was a brand new 7-11.  You may have heard on the news that a mom and her daughter hid in the freezer during the tornado.  They are two of the victims of this tragedy.  The final two pictures are from the back of Southgate Baptist Church's property, facing the back of the Plaza Towers neighborhood.  That is whatever is left of the neighborhood.  

Two of my cousins are members of First Baptist Church of Moore.  It opened up Monday night at 9:00 after the tornado at 2:56 pm...and eventually became a fabulous area with First Aid, showers, cots, a "shopping" area for victims to come through for canned goods, baby needs, clothing, blankets, pillows, dog food, gloves, tarps, totes, produce, etc.  

My aunt is a member at Southgate Baptist Church.  As you can see from the pictures above, they are VERY close to the devastation of the tornado.  They still do not have electricity.  They are running their gym on two generators that were donated.  Someone else donated the diesel.  Tyson showed up with two 18-wheelers and have been cooking meals for volunteers, victims, just whoever needed a meal.  Mercy Chefs is parked out back cooking meals as well.  I ran into the head chef at Houston's First Baptist Church!  He was serving with Mercy Chefs.  Awesome to see some of "my" people serving "my" people!  
Many youth groups and college groups have volunteered to come this summer, but where would they stay?  Someone donated 4 bunkhouses, with 12 bunks in each and a sleeper sofa.  Each bunkhouse has 2 refrigerators, 2 bathrooms/showers and a sofa.  This is a HUGE blessing! 

Angela and I drove up Friday afternoon and worked at FBC Moore and Southgate.  It was an eye-opening experience for sure!  I had never worked a disaster before, and it was such a learning experience.

On Friday, when we arrived at FBC Moore, many people coming in for supplies were still in shock.   They were quiet as they moved through the facility, looking for an item or two.  One lady came in.  She currently lived in Moore and her home had seen some destruction, but her hometown is Carney, a town of less than 1,000.  She was headed to help her grandparents and didn't think Carney had any supplies or donation site set up yet.  We loaded up her car with as much food, diapers, towels, gloves and other supplies as would fit....and it was a lot!  It's amazing how many crannies you can find in a Nissan!  She was in tears to know that others were willing to help.

Each day brought learning to the volunteers.  Each day the victims were beginning to come out of shock and into a stage of feeling overwhelmed.  Where can we find our insurance company?  (They're in the parking lot on the other side of the church building.)  Where is FEMA?  (At the back of this parking lot under blue tarps.)  I don't have power yet...or have no home to even worry about do I feed my family?  (We have MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) that heat up themselves.  We also have peanut butter and jelly, apples, oranges, bananas, chips and packages of cookies.)

People drove in from around the country with supplies.  One MAJOR thing I learned is that there is NO possible way to coordinate disaster relief, because there are so many people that come to help, but let no one know they're coming.  One man showed up at FBC Moore on Friday in the early evening.  He had left Maryland at 5am that morning and driven straight to Moore.  He had a trailer full of supplies.  FBC wasn't currently taking donations, but he had already been to two places that weren't taking donations either, so we accepted what he brought.  Yes, the supplies are needed, but where are these buildings supposed to store them?

Holy Cow, the water!  I've never seen so many bottles of water in my life.  FBC probably had 50,000 bottles...and that might be an UNDERestimate.  Southgate probably had 15,000 bottles.


That's a LOT of water!

I know of a couple of families that didn't have insurance.  I can't even fathom the amount of pressure on a mom that works for a school cafeteria and a dad that just graduated as a paramedic to provide for a family with no home and no insurance to rebuild.

My family was able to hear stories of heartache.  Everyone wants to share their story.  It's a part of the grieving process and I'm so glad I was able to hear them share their horror.  When asked why we were there, our family said, "My grandma survived the May 3 tornado, but lost her home.  We've been on that side.  Now, it's our turn to help."

Praying for the people of Oklahoma.  Proud to be from a legacy of Oklahomans.

No comments:

Post a Comment