All that buzz / Features/Entertainment

Current Conditions: Letters from Oklahoma

MooreRedCrossLocalVolunteers-nomy-060213This week, I had the pleasure of talking to Tara Ghere, Central Kansas American Red Cross assistant director. She was volunteering in Moore, Oklahoma, and mentioned she was writing Facebook posts about what she’d done that day to help keep perspective. I thought some of you might be interested in reading those posts, so, with her permission, here goes….

May 24

We had a long but good and productive day. We were assigned to bulk distribution. We loaded up things like tarps, shovels, rakes, coolers, gloves, and water to take out on our route. We were assigned to “scout” out the New Castle area. We found two small housing developments that were destroyed. The families we met were thankful for the help and assistance we were able to offer them. We encountered a lot of volunteers with church groups who were helping families move items out of their houses, search through what was left of their homes, and cut down trees. Tomorrow we will go back to the same area offering more bulk items to aid in the clean up. Today we ask that you continue to pray for everyone affected. We met some children who are having a difficult time dealing with the tornado and the losses they have suffered–pray for these kids and their parents as they help them work through their feelings. Also remember those who have lost family members to the tornado. Today there was a funeral at the First Baptist Church in Moore, OK where one of the kitchen sites is located. Sadly, the “Wackadoo Baptist Church” out of Topeka showed up to protest the funeral. Everyone is thankful for the Legion Riders who blocked the weirdies. Lastly, we are thankful for the love and support we are getting from family and friends. We would not be able to go out and “do what we do” if we didn’t have that. We love you all. Stay tuned…

May 26

What a busy day! Whew! We went to Newcastle first and then went to Moore, OK to help other ERVs that could not keep up with the demand for assistance. We drove past the Warren Theater, the medical center, and the gas station–all of which we saw on the news the very day the tornado hit. We passed out bulk items two blocks west of the Warren Theater and then three blocks to the east. Getting around was tricky for a few reasons. #1 The President was in town and they had key streets blocked off for several hours. #2 some of the streets were PACKED with people coming in to help. #3 dump trucks and front loaders were trying to work down the streets to clear the debris out of the neighborhoods. I guess you can say it was tight quarters for everyone. We were blessed by Mike at the Sonic in Newcastle as he filled 16 coolers with ice after we filled them with Gatorade. Then we had cold drinks to offer to the clients. We asked neighbors to share with one another and they were happy to do that as some of them felt like they didn’t need the entire cooler–but the opportunity to help other neighbors and volunteer workers was a perfect plan for them. We also saw therapy dogs today! I took that opportunity to take a break and go for some doggie therapy since I am missing my Meowfaces at home. The beautiful animals and their owners drove up from Dallas, TX to offer up their “fur babies” for people to love on.
I learned tonight that Fred and I will be going out in the morning to a fixed bulk site for a photo op representing Red Cross. I’d like to say we’re going to look our best…but I can only promise we won’t be dirty or sweaty first thing in the morning! Hahaha!!!!!
My final thoughts for you tonight is something I’ve been seeing at a few houses the past few days. People who have lost their homes and everything in them have put signs out that say “House For Sale” or putting battered up realtor signs in their yards when they have a car and jet ski sitting where their living room once was. This reminds me that as long as you can have a sense of humor about the most tragic of situations; you have HOPE! And HOPE is exactly what will carry each and every family through. Stay Tuned…

May 27

Another wild and wooly day for us. Our day started earlier than most as we needed to be to a MARC (Multi Agency Resource Center) for the media. We were just about to leave when the final crew showed up. It was 2 guys from the Discovery Channel. They are doing a documentary on the tornado and the aftermath. Fred and I along with our friend new ARC Public Affairs friend Vicki from Michigan took the film crew into Moore where the damage level was classified as destroyed. We spent some time with them, they filmed us, and then left us to continue on with our job. Oh, look for this show to view within a couple weeks. Shortly after the film crew left us we arrived at a house where people were shrieking and screaming. We learned that they found their dog ALIVE in the rubble. She had been there an entire week! The excitement of the family was wonderful that I cried along with them. The homeowners rushed away with their dog to the vet to get her checked out. Their family members stayed along with the Texas volunteers who were working on cleaning and saving what they could. The family said they had been looking for her (dog’s name is Allie) and just needed to see if she was still alive or dead in the rubble. One of them said “Now our family is complete again thanks to that young man from Texas”. I also met a woman who had been home when the tornado hit her house and she had to be rescued from her home. I will call her Miss J. Miss J showed me most of her bruises, two black eyes, cuts, scrapes, and stitches in her arm. She said the last thing she remembered was trying to take cover in her house and something knocked her over. She thinks that is when debris came flying into her house. She said God must have greater plans for her to let her survive the tornado. I told her I think she is right. When I left her I had her convinced to go get checked out at a medical center as she thinks she has broken ribs that weren’t bothering her until a few days ago.
Tomorrow we will switch jobs and become a feeding ERV unit out of Kitchen 2 in Shawnee, OK; which is east of OKC. This will cut into my “Puppy Petting” that I’ve been able to do with Bulk Distribution–but I will manage.
Tonight I ask for you all to pray for Miss J and that God will heal her external wounds as well as her emotional wounds. Also pray for every child affected by this horrible tornado. Several parents commented today that their kids have fear of dark clouds and don’t want to go anywhere unless it’s sunny. So many precious babies that just need our love along with some counseling to work through what they experienced last week. Stay tuned…..

May 30

Today was an exciting day. We just finished being under a tornado warning for the area of Norman we are in. Luckily we were all told to be back at the hotel by 3pm. The sirens blew at 3:30. Luckily I had been out of the shower for 10 minutes so at least I had clothes on. I had to put my shoes on without tying them and walk down 6 flights of stairs. I joined all my other Red Cross and FEMA friends in the shelter area. I heard someone say “Well, if a tornado hits here I’m glad Red Cross and FEMA is already on the scene.” It cracked me up. We shall see what the rest of today brings.

-Kayla Regan, Current Conditions 

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