Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tornado Aftermath Day 2: Volunteers

I didn't sleep well the night of May 20. I laid awake as the numbers and images from the tornado bounced around in my head. I felt sick to my stomach the entire night, but when it was reasonable to get back up again, I dressed and headed to work. Upon arriving in the newsroom, my boss sent me out to interview volunteers helping with relief efforts. I arrived to find JourneyChurch buzzing with happy activity. I was blown away to see so many working as the hands of God, like literal disciples of Jesus Christ. They organized and prepared food and water, folded blankets, piled pillows, sorted clothing and more. That is what has touched me the most about this entire experience: Seeing the divinity in others as they selflessly reach out to serve, to lift, to protect. It is truly humbling and inspiring. People weren't kidding when they called it the "Oklahoma Standard." Okies take service to heart and don't mess around when it comes to being their brother's keeper.

While I was there I spoke with Kaye Bailey, a Moore resident who lost her home near Plaza Towers Elementary the day before. Kaye was willing to talk to me but her answers at first were short. Eventually she told me about riding out the storm in her closet with her dog. Her eyes became glassy with tears as she related the events, telling me she kneeled in the closet praying, listening to what sounded like a freight train roaring by her. She said when she opened her eyes she could see light coming through underneath her closet door. When she opened up the closet, her home was gone.


This is the story I wrote on volunteer efforts and Kaye.


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