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Oklahoma tornadoes: Faith-based Austin group helps create relief network in Oklahoma

Austin Disaster Relief Network was founded in 2011 after the wildfires in Bastrop, Texas. It is helping Oklahoma churches form a similar network.
by Carla Hinton Modified: June 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm •  Published: June 8, 2013

More than 70 Oklahoma churches are working together to form a disaster relief network to aid victims of recent storms.

Church leaders have been meeting with representatives of the Austin Disaster Relief Network, a faith-based group formed to help victims of the 2011 Bastrop, Texas, wildfires.

Stephen Brewer, the Austin network's associate director, said the group has compiled a list of about 800 Oklahoma families affected by the May tornadoes and floods who want to be sponsored by a local church. Brewer said they have been giving the information to local churches interested in being part of an Oklahoma relief network. About 90 families have been “adopted” so far, he said.

Daniel Geraci, the Austin organization's director, said his network will hold a training session Tuesday at First Baptist Church in Moore for church leaders and members interested in being part of the Oklahoma network.

“We're expecting Oklahoma to really come out strong,” Geraci said. “I believe there's a movement moving forward to build a network in this city.”

The Rev. Trevor Williams, campus pastor of Edmond, 4600 E Second St., said a central network will better serve crisis victims, churches and the community at large. He said church leaders appear to be open to the concept, and many already have been responding to storm victims' needs.

The Rev. Walter Mullican, senior pastor of Portland Avenue Baptist Church, said the network appears to be the best way to connect his congregation with storm victims. He said his church has the names of 10 families it plans to support on a long-term basis.

“Within minutes of the tornadoes, people were down there bringing water, food and other basics, and those are all good responses, but I wanted our church to perhaps get involved with families long-term, to learn their names, to walk through this with them,” he said.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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