The Norman Transcript

Government

August 13, 2013

Quilters helping piece life together for survivors

NORMAN — For Cleveland County residents who lost everything in the May tornadoes, recent weeks have been a process of piecing lives back together. For Pauline Best, a Bakersfield, Calif., resident, making something whole out of pieces is an art form.

The 80-year-old Best is a quilter, and her heart went out to Oklahoma tornado victims. Many folks in Bakersfield have Oklahoma connections because they migrated to California during the Oklahoma Dust Bowl era. It didn’t take long for Best to find out that one of her volunteer quilters, Sue Hankins, has a nephew who’s a Cleveland County commissioner.

Commissioner Rusty Sullivan said Best and her quilting buddies sent 100 handmade quilts his way to be distributed to tornado victims. Sullivan formally accepted the quilts Monday at the county commissioners meeting.

Best has made quilts for victims of Hurricane Katrina and of the Joplin, Mo., tornado. She said these quilts are not heirloom quality, but they will warm people against the cold.

Cleveland County Emergency Management Director George Mauldin will facilitate distribution of the quilts.

Mauldin serves on the Eastern Cleveland County Long-term Recovery Committee comprised of nonprofits like Red Cross, United Way and church organizations who work with disaster victims over the long haul. The committee is preparing housewarming boxes for tornado victims. The quilts will be included in those boxes.

“We will utilize the committee to distribute these gifts,” Mauldin said.

The committee has been gearing up to take over as government money runs out. Insurance and FEMA funding are providing assistance now, but when those monies are spent, the nonprofits will step in to help cover any gaps.

“There’s a lot of money designated for this recovery,” Mauldin said.

The committee will match victims with the appropriate agency based on the help needed.

“We have to get the word out that this exists,” Mauldin said.

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