Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tornado: Part Five

As I pulled into the driveway at Southmoore on Friday morning something colorful caught my attention.  I saw a large amount of yellow shirts on the side of our building...with rakes, shovels, trash bags, etc.  They were helping to clean our grounds of the debris from the peripheral winds of the tornado.  I did make my way out to where they were working so as to learn who this group was.  Interestingly enough I noticed that it wasn't just yellow shirts, but there were also many people wearing purple...there were actually TWO volunteer groups.  The purple clad blessings were part of a national disaster recovery team called DRAW: Disaster Relief at Work; this specific group was a based out of a Michigan community near Detroit.  The yellow clad blessings were part of a national disaster relief team affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints; these "Mormon Helping Hands" include LDS missionaries from all over the U.S. and they were joined today by one of Southmoore's own wonderful LDS families...the Beans!!  Both groups worked long and hard to help beautify our grounds!
DRAW: Disaster Relief at Work (Team Purple)

Mormon Helping Hands (Team Yellow)

Mormon Helping Hands (Team Yellow)

The Bean Family working with Mormon Helping Hands
(Justin, Shawn, Gordon, Shauna, Erin, & Jourdon)
Friday morning was filled with a bunch of "end of year" procedures and clean-up which are part of our usual duties as teachers.  However, no computer network, internet, e-mail, or grade-book access complicated much of this [smile].  I did get as much packed and cleaned up as possible, which included boxing up LOTS of textbooks as this is the end of the adoption cycle for Social Studies textbooks.

The remainder of the day involved some relief/outreach projects which actually began getting planned on Tuesday.  While I was at Norman High School on Tuesday (see Tornado: Part Two) I began receiving some text messages from a friend and colleague with Union Public Schools (Tulsa area).  Philippa Kelly and I have gotten to know each other over the past several years as teachers of AP Human Geography and this relationship has grown since I began my involvement with Student Council.  Philippa is currently the director/coordinator of all student activities at Union High School.  She was contacting me so serve as a local coordinator for delivery of a host of items being donated as part of a relief drive in Union P.S.  We texted and called each other over the next few days and Friday afternoon was the time we scheduled for delivery.

I met up with Philippa and Eli Huff, one of her colleagues from Union, before their arrival to First Baptist Church in Moore.  Due to the interstate route they were planning, along with FBC already being a primary donation drop-off point, we had decided to make the drop here.  As we pulled in to the unloading area we were informed that they did not need anymore bottled water as their supply was already too large so we verbally mentioned that we would take it on down to Southmoore.  As they heard us talking about going to another relief center they asked if we could take more water and some clothing and stuffed animals with us.  Philippa and Eli agreed.  So after unloading many other supplies, including personal hygiene products, baby diapers, and baby formula we took on our agreed upon load.

We then began the navigation process toward Southmoore.  Due to repair to electric lines and other utilities, some of the main roads which had become open following the clearing of major debris were now re-closed. So the route was a major weaving around.  Somehow we ended up driving west 4th Street between Sunnylane and Eastern Avenue and then south on Eastern Avenue toward 19th Street...the heart of much of the devastation which occurred east of I-35.  While not the best route for trying to get to Southmoore rapidly it ended up being an important visual image to all three of us on the importance of the relief work that Union P.S. (and so many other schools and organizations around) were doing.

Union Public Schools' Eli Huff & Philippa Kelly
In a mad dash of unloading items into Southmoore, the representatives from the Moore Council PTA who were overseeing the SHS based relief center were just amazing by the efforts of Union's power team to not only bring items for relief, but to also help shuffle items from one relief center to another.  Members of those yellow clad "Mormon Helping Hands" also helped to unload the supply van.  Philippa and Eli had to leave all too soon so as to get the borrowed van back to Tulsa on time.

I continue to be so blessed by ALL of the various groups who are actively providing their love and support.  I've received so many messages contacting me: from Broken Arrow, OK, to Nevada, to Utah, and even to an agriculture education team at a school in Texas who were concerned about meeting the needs of the animals in Moore's ag. ed. program.  SIMPLY OVERWHELMED WITH BLESSING!!

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