The Norman Transcript

Letters

June 27, 2013

Learning a lesson in humility

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

I came from Edgecomb, Maine, as a disaster mental health worker for the Red Cross to help in the Oklahoma tornadoes relief.

Upon my arrival May 27, the damage witnessed was more than one could have imagined. Miles and miles of devastation: homes, businesses, schools and even a hospital all destroyed or damaged beyond belief. Homes, cars, trucks and trees were left as piles of rubble and debris in every direction.

My deployment began in Shawnee as a team member going out in the community to help homeowners and citizens in their environment. Shortly thereafter, I was assigned to Westmoore High School in Moore.

Moore is the community that was ambushed by the EF-5 tornado May 20, suffering major devastation. The high school became the Multiple Agency Resource Center.

The MARC was one of four resources in Oklahoma helping people recover and begin to heal from their losses.

Losses included loved ones: spouses, children, relatives, neighbors and pets. Losses also included homes, cars and possessions of all kind, ranging from sacred items to every belonging owned.

While there, we experienced four more tornadoes from May 28 through May 31.

Volunteers were exposed to the threat of destruction and physical harm from winds more than 200 mph, massive thunder and lightning, plus six inches of rain, which only served to hamper movement and created emotional crisis, anxiety and fear for volunteers and storm survivors alike.

Our work at the MARC was the process to helping victims begin their recovery by assisting from the initial registration and progressing through exploration of the various resources at their disposal.

On average, 25 agencies provided services to these needy victims: Red Cross, FEMA, Catholic Charities, Southern Baptist Ministries, Salvation Army, Veterans Affairs, Vet Centers, Oklahoma Housing Authority, local counseling agencies, food banks, shelters and local churches of all denominations.

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