Yesterday, I had the opportunity to donate my time and able hands to go to some areas that were less populated but just as devastating from this week’s deadly storms, just south of the Shawnee Reservoir.
A friend and I hopped in his truck and headed to The Shawnee Expo Center, who was posting on Facebook that help was still needed. We signed up, signed waivers, and took instructions from the police officers at that location. We were sent to a hard hit neighborhood, and thankfully, there was no work left to be done in that area.
So we decided to drive the country roads until we could stop and help. We came to an intersection south of the Shawnee Reservoir with a road block, and a police officer directed us to the Lakeview Church of Christ. Upon arrival we signed in and took a five minute safety course on how to lift, they loaded us down with work gloves, safety goggles, and hard hats and directed us to follow a chainsaw crew.
We ended up a few miles around the corner from the church in a heavily populated rural housing area. Upon arrival we were told to move branches into piles as the chainsaw workers cut, and we did relentlessly; I looked up for a moment after lifting branches for 45 minutes or so and saw that there were more homes, skeletons of where trailers once stood, personal belongings littered the land.
From there a friend of mine and I spoke with the mother of one of the homeowners. A friend had found a handmade quilt on the ground, and I had found children’s homework and clothing still on the hanger. The homeowner claimed to have never seen any of the items.
The crew I was with yesterday cleared five to seven acres in about three hours, I felt like we had accomplished a good thing. We helped, but there was so much frustration in that homeowner’s eyes. Now I can see why. This man salvaged his home and watched it get bulldozed and carried away. There are no words for the pain that this tragic tornado has brought to so many Oklahomans.
If you want to go on a crew like I did, please go. Wear jeans, boots, expect to do a lot of heavy lifting, and prepare yourself to witness complete loss.
Go to the Lakeview Church of Christ, 15301 Hiway 102, Shawnee Oklahoma. You can also call 405-275-2922.
The church is asking for donations to stop, and helping hands to come in. They are also requesting that volunteers do not arrive on Saturday; they already have over 300 volunteers scheduled to show up. The cleanup efforts will continue throughout today, Sunday, and all of next week.