By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
The Norman Transcript
MOORE — Joplin is paying it forward. The day before the two-year anniversary of an EF-5 leveling one-third of Joplin, pastors from Ignite Church responded to Moore, where an EF-5 spent 40 minutes on the ground.
“It was déja vu. It was very reminiscent,” said Shane Munn, Ignite campus pastor, Tuesday afternoon in Moore. “But it was a good feeling to know what they’re going through and to be able to empower them, to really be able to pay it forward.”
The aftermath of the two tornadoes was similar: Leveled homes and businesses, twisted metal in trees, cars crushed and upside down, a medical center and two schools destroyed. Large orange X’s on homes that had been searched. Helicopters crisscrossing the sky overhead. Dogs sniffing for survivors or victims. And help pouring in from every direction.
Munn, Ignite lead pastor Heath Mooneyham and pastoral assistant Tim Palley were on the road to Moore by 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, armed with a stack of forms they found invaluable during Joplin’s tornado recovery.
“After the Joplin tornado, it took about four days for us to get streamlined, and we wanted to get connected to a church in Moore right away,” Munn said.
They did: Journey Church in nearby Norman was eager for help. With a congregation of 8,000 members and just on the outskirts of Moore, Pastor Alan Sample said it was a logical place to stage relief efforts. Within hours of the tornado touching down, they were flooded with donations and volunteers.
Munn’s team shared with Sample’s team copies of forms and proven systems of organization that worked in the weeks and months after the Joplin tornado.
“Stuff like work order forms, so they can be efficient with equipment, where to go, the number of people needed and how long they’ll be needed,” Munn said. “And volunteer releases.”
Sample said the Joplin team brought to his church “some great advice from what they’d learned.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the church was a model of efficiency as volunteers on the parking lot directed carloads of donations through a circle drive at the front door, where other volunteers offloaded the supplies onto dollies. Inside, still more volunteers processed and directed the donations, which included household goods, clothing, diapers, bottled water and food, and a door greeter directed volunteers.
Volunteers also streamed in from other cities. A team of volunteers called the Comanche Nation Angels from Lawton walked the streets offering pizza to anyone they saw.
Lani Manuel, of Bartlesville, drove in with 100 cases of bottled water and walked the streets handing them out with her sister, Teresa Wyman.
Matthew Cervantes, a San Antonio resident who had come to Midwest City to visit a friend, Shawn Cook, said the two responded at daybreak Tuesday morning.
Cervantes said he was shocked by the destruction and debris.
“But we felt like we needed to come,” he said. “There’s no other place we’d rather be.”