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Disaster Relief serving across Oklahoma following tornadoes, floods

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) is deployed across the state of Oklahoma following a record-breaking month for severe weather in May.

DR completed mud-out and flood relief in Nebraska on May 11, in time to return to Oklahoma, which needed help of trained and equipped DR volunteers.

Storm damage in the Tulsa area after a May 20 EF-2 tornado swept through the metro. Photo by Dennis Ingram

On Thurs., May 23 a tornado caused devastation in El Reno, according to Don Williams, state director of Oklahoma Baptist DR. “We (DR) were in El Reno within a couple of hours of the tornado hitting providing emotional and spiritual care through our chaplains,” he said.

Many communities in the Tulsa metro also were impacted on May 23 by similar storms, including Broken Arrow, north Tulsa and Sapulpa.

Due to large amounts of rainfall, much of Oklahoma sustained floodwaters that displaced them from their homes and businesses.

“As of May 28, FEMA said the flood stages in the Arkansas River are expected to remain where they are for up to two weeks,” Williams said.

DR trained and equipped volunteers have been working non-stop to offer hope and healing to Oklahomans affected by flooding and tornado damage.

Webbers Falls, First in Muskogee County sits in flood waters. Photo by Kristee Ravan

“Since May 2, we’ve been doing chainsaw work all over eastern Oklahoma. There have been tornadoes in Peggs, Leach and in north Tulsa where our teams are working as well,” Williams said. “We’ve asked Arkansas and Southern Baptist Texas Convention (SBTC) to help.”

Incident Command for mud-out in Osage County was set up at Skiatook, First. DR is working closely with the Hominy incident manager. Hominy, First is providing food and a meeting place for DR volunteers.

“We are very appreciative of First Baptist Hominy and First Baptist Skiatook for stepping up and working together with us on this. We are working Avant, Skiatook and Hominy now, and we’ll start working east toward Owasso and north Tulsa. Once flood waters recede in Tulsa County and Muskogee we will begin work there,” Williams said.

Chainsaw teams from Arkansas DR were sent to northeast Oklahoma, while SBTC set up their command center at Blackwell, Emmanuel at the request of Oklahoma Baptist DR. “We asked them to come and run mud-out operations in Ponca City, Newkirk and Blackwell areas, and we are grateful for their willingness to run that area,” Williams said.

“This is much bigger than Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. We are encouraging our Baptist Collegiate Ministries and local churches to work with us to reach the community. We are spread thin, but the Lord provides, and He is going to help us work through this and get the help, hope and healing that Oklahoma communities need,” Williams said.

For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.okdisasterhelp.org.

Emily Howsden

Author: Emily Howsden

Emily Howsden is the Digital Content Coordinator and a staff writer for the Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Emily Howsden.

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