It’s true that I’m biased when it comes to Oklahoma. I have a right to be. This has been my home state all my life. Born here, educated here, married here, employed here, plan on retiring here. And unless there’s something I’m not aware of, I’ll finish my life here.
But even if none of that were true, what I’ve seen, heard and read the past few weeks would convince me this is a very special place, with some wonderful, caring people.
The tornadoes of May were devastating … and deadly. Nearly 50 people died as a result. Cities and towns such as Edmond, Carney, Newcastle, El Reno, Mustang, El Reno, Yukon and Broken Arrow had damage, sometimes heavy. In other areas, such as Bethel Acres, Shawnee, Oklahoma City and Moore, it as worse. http://tinyurl.com/n4d25d4
The storms were still active when the recovery began. In addition to thousands of emergency personnel and first responders, family, friends, neighbors, victims themselves and even people who didn’t know those affected but who wanted to help jumped in. http://tinyurl.com/l5ad9mg
That was followed by those from emergency agencies, organizations and volunteer groups throughout the nation. New friends. New assistance. All trying to help.
Daily, stories on NewsOK and in The Oklahoman detailed efforts do help. Just do a simple search through NewsOK and you’ll find a multitude of examples, such as …
School children in Ponca City voted to give up an end-of-the-year class trip in favor of buying items for those in need in affected areas. The local Fraternal Order of Police gathered theirs and more donations and had them trucked here. Lots of volunteers from Ponca.
Children in Enid and several other cities and towns throughout the state collected money and items to send to tornado-ravaged communities. Little League players from Durant who brought toys for kids who lost theirs in the Moore tornado. http://tinyurl.com/m78nztl
Several local groups, agencies and organizations, as well as thousands of citizens donated food, water and clothing for the victims, as well as for those working hour after hour to help those who lost homes and possessions and those who stood guard over the areas. http://tinyurl.com/l97wnoc and http://tinyurl.com/opmj7kb
And there was heroism. People who stepped in to help rescue victims. And who could forget the teachers that kept students calm as the massive EF5 tornado hit Moore and leveled their school. Some of the teachers kept the children safe under desks and tables, others used their bodies to shield the little ones. http://tinyurl.com/km9ymly
Some of Oklahoma’s most popular individuals — such as entertainers Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Toby Keith (http://tinyurl.com/lq4vwxe), Joe Don Rooney, Wanda Jackson and Carrie Underwood — joined notables from the sports world — Thunder Coach Scott Brooks, General Manager Sam Presti, players Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Daniel Orton, Hasheem Thabeet and Thabo Sefolo, NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson (http://tinyurl.com/lqd3yfh), OU football Coach Bob Stoops — and even President Barack Obama lent their support, through personal visits, concerts, or donations. http://tinyurl.com/l58brxo
There also was a little extra boost for the citizens of Moore when the University of Oklahoma’s women’s softball team and its fans displayed signs remembering the people of Moore (“One Moore Win”) and repeatedly spoke of the city during the Women’s College World Series en route to its national championship.
A lot of heroes, a lot of help, a lot of unselfishness and a lot of caring. And as Gov. Mary Fallin said during a tour of the Moore devastation, a lot of work to be done.
Count on it. It will be. And we’ll all be proud.