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A Prior Tornado Victim Explains How Best to Help

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: May 20, 2013

I want to thank old friend Blair Humphreys for putting me in touch with Ryan Smith, who has intimate knowledge of what’s it like to lose everything in a tornado, and how best to help such victims after the storm has passed.

My parents lost their home of 37 years 2 years ago on May 24th in Chickasha. It was the home I was born and raised in, basically a farm house on the outskirts of Chickasha. The rebuilding of the home took less than a year but the rebuilding of their lives is just beginning. My dad is 72 and my mom turns 70 this next week and they are essentially starting over with their lives. They are strong and resilient but it has been tough to say the least.

I did write a first hand experience about seeing the destruction of their home for the first time and realizing that although I knew tornados happened I just never thought they would happen to us.

Church groups, family and friends all came out the next day and begin to help clean up. Very helpful but we weren’t quite ready, my parents were in shock and these groups needed someone to lead them in going through all of my parents things. My dad did the best he could do in leading but he and my mother could not make decisions on the spot. Never been through this before. My siblings and I stepped in but we too were traumatize as well but we did the best we could.

Would have been helpful to have people come out and help lead in clean up, people who have done this type of work before and knew how to do basic clean up and recovery.

Lots of water bottles and food were constantly brought out. This was extremely helpful.

Lots of gloves, masks and trashbags donated. Several people offered up self-storage units to my family to store items recovered from the rubble.

Several flat bed trailers were brought out for us to use to transport the recovered items to storage.
A friend loaned my parents a pick up to drive as all of their cars were destroyed.
Lots of on going support many weeks out, showing up every day to find out if there was anything they could do. There was always something to do.

A local church organized lunches everyday for anyone in that community. They reached out to other local churches to help provide the food. This became the spot for people to gather together and share what they were going through…with each other. And to find out other ways that people could assist each other.

Lots of burying the dead of cows and horse took place. Just read that Orr farms had at least 75 horses killed.

The more I read about this destruction in Moore I think it just must be all hands on deck at this point.

Praying we can all find a way to serve and help in effective ways.

Thanks for what you do.


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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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