Editor’s Note: Local resident Morgan Reeves traveled to the town of Moore, Okla., which was recently devastated by a tornado. Reeves wrote a first-hand account of her experience as a volunteer helping residents clean up and recover. Reeves is a 2012 graduate of Hesston High and will be attending Oral Roberts University in the fall.
This past Saturday I went down to the devastated community of Moore, Okla., to help out. The young adults ministry I attend in Newton, Bonfire Ministries, had a group of 10 young adults who volunteered to go and serve for the day.
On the trip down there I was not sure what to expect. I had never been to an area that had been struck with such tragedy. Our group did not have much of plan; we just knew we wanted to help out anyway we could. Bonfire Ministries had collected supplies donated by the community at the Wal-Mart in Newton. We knew we wanted to give those supplies to those in need.
Once we were getting close to our destination, we contacted Church of the Harvest, which is located in Moore. At the church, an organization called Service International was there assigning volunteer groups to sites all around Moore.
They had us fill out a little paperwork, gave us Disaster Relief Volunteer shirts, and sent us out to where we were needed. It was incredibly organized and I was very impressed with how smoothly it went.
Church of the Harvest was also taking donations. The church’s indoor basketball court had been turned into a warehouse full of bottled water, food, diapers, toiletries, and other necessary items. It was completely full and arranged like a warehouse. Victims of the tornado were able to come in, grab a shopping cart, and take whatever they needed.
It was amazing to see what all God had provided for His people in their time of need. This is where we left the donations that we collected from the Newton Wal-Mart.
As we traveled to our first site I was amazed to see licenses plates from Mississippi, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, Texas, California, and Missouri. Cars from the all over the country were lining the streets of these disaster-stricken neighborhoods.
Our working sites for the day included three homes hit by the tornado.
All three of these houses would be livable, eventually, but they were going to require repair and months of cleaning and restoration work. Their roofs were destroyed, the windows were blown out and they had extreme wind damage. The front and back yards were full of debris, tree branches and glass.
Our task for the day was to clean up the yards of each house. It seemed simple enough, but these yards were destroyed and it took a couple hours to clean each one, even with 10-15 people working.
While raking up debris, I occasionally came across personal items such as pictures, DVDs, checks, and Christmas ornaments. We tried to save those items by placing them on a windowsill or somewhere relatively safe.
Tree branches, debris, and scrap metal were all placed on the sides of the residential streets to be picked up by the city in the weeks to come. The sheer amount of debris all over the community was an overwhelming sight.
We had no shortage of water and food while working. Multiple cars full of selfless families, church groups, and Boy Scout troops drove the streets, offering bottles of cold water or snacks.
One family stopped and asked us if we wanted chicken sandwiches and chips for lunch. We didn’t even have time to answer before a young boy jumped out of the car and ran up to give us bags of food with a huge smile on his face. The joy he had in giving was so sweet to see. Everyone cared for everyone.
It was amazing to witness God providing not only for the victims, but for those volunteering their time to serve the community.
The last house we worked at was the only one where we actually met the owners of the home. It was a couple that looked to be in their 50s.
The woman thanked us multiple times. She was so grateful and told us they could have never cleaned it up on their own. The couple said they planned to repair their house and stay. The woman was scheduled to have surgery soon, but the doctor’s office where the surgery was supposed to take place had been wiped out by the tornado. She seemed fairly stressed about her health situation. We were able to show her Christ’s love and pray with her, which was such an amazing opportunity.
Oklahoma will need supplies, volunteers, and donations for months to come. They also need our prayers. If you would like to help in anyway please visit http://servemoore.com/.
“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” - 1 Peter 4:11