First Report back from OKC

We sent a Live Out team from Indian Creek this last Friday. Here is Jenna Gaeddert’s report: I wanted to provide a quick report on the situation from OKC.

Crossings, Fresh Start COG, and Shartel have networked well to provide assistance to their families and to their community. Crossings is in north okc and is providing volunteers and financial help. Shartel is acting as a housing area for about 50 people including volunteers helping with recovery. Fresh Start, which is only 1/2 mile from some of the worst damage, is the staging area for much of the supplies- pictures are attached.

They are allowing people to come in and load up whatever supplies they need. Bonnie, one of the main volunteers, said that many of the people that come have lost everything but are reluctant to take very much. She has had to reassure families that they are encouraged to take an abundance (by that i mean a whole package of toilet paper instead of a couple rolls). They are unsure how many families they have helped, but the sign in list just for today showed more than 50.

Right now, security in the area is really tight. The pastors I’ve been working with have only received clearance to go into some of the neighborhoods today. In many cases, families haven’t been able to return to their homes to survey or recover items. They are still working to get power to some areas. The biggest problem the folks at Fresh Start are having is getting the supplies to those who need them. Many families are without transportation, and supplies can’t yet be taken into affected areas. The majority of people coming for supplies are the ones within walking distance. With such little access, it’s been hard for them to help and supplies are just being stock piled. Eventually, when security loosens up and its safe to go into the neighborhoods, they will work to help get more supplies distributed and begin with the long task of clean up.

As far as Indian Creek is concerned, I was told that they will need help once the clean up process starts in a couple of weeks. Ken, one of the board members at Fresh Start, suggested that once people start to get back to their “normal” lives there will be a real need. Right now, there is such an influx of help being offered, and little they can do, it’s hard to use all the help they have been offered.

On our way out of the area we went past many destroyed building and homes. It really looks like a war zone. One street was lined with power crews- probably 20 trucks in all- just trying to restore power poles and lines. Traffic was horrible, backed up on the interstate for 4 miles or more. I imagine it’s hard even for emergency crews to get around.

I will say that as chaotic as it seems right now, there does seem to be an abundance of coordinated assistance. Most of the churches we passed had relief stations set up, with countless volunteers. Even the news crews and reporters have acknowledge a real presence of the faith based community. I don’t know if help would have been so available otherwise. Emergency crews are focusing on the worst areas so those on the outer edges are still able to receive help from neighborhood churches.

I’ll continue to follow up with the pastors there and hopefully they will have some real clarity on how we can help. They were very grateful for our prayers and supplies. Thank you, Gary, for letting us jump on this so quickly. Jenna