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Springing into action!

Early spring storms’ response includes new DR volunteers, units

A tree fell on cars and damaged a roof in northwest Oklahoma City (Photo: Bob Nigh)

A tree fell on cars and damaged a roof in northwest Oklahoma City (Photo: Bob Nigh)

Recently-trained volunteers and two new recovery and repair trailers were among Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) disaster relief responders when early spring storms spawning tornadoes slashed across the state’s central and northeastern sections March 25.

Clean-up and feeding efforts by BGCO disaster relief volunteers in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas continued through the end of March, according to Disaster Relief Director Sam Porter, who toured the most severely impacted areas of Tulsa, Sapulpa and Sand Springs on Fri., March 27.

The BGCO had three assessor teams and one tarping team at work in the Oklahoma City area beginning March 27, while three chain saw teams, the tarping team and a combined feeding unit from two Tulsa Metro Association areas were at work in the Tulsa area. Tarping teams cover damaged roofs with blue tarps to prevent the homes from further damage in the case of rainfall.

Recovery & repair team members, from left, Richard Cavett, Ivan Armstrong, Carl Bastion,Robert Harshman and Paul Gustafson place tarp on a roof (Photo: Joe Day)

Recovery & repair team members, from left, Richard Cavett, Ivan Armstrong, Carl Bastion,Robert Harshman and Paul Gustafson place tarp on a roof (Photo: Joe Day)

An Incident Command Center for the Oklahoma City metro area was set up at the Baptist Building under the direction of Incident Commander (IC) Dave Karr, while the BGCO’s Mobile Command Center (Bus) was dispatched to The Church That Matters in Sand Springs to direct the response in the Tulsa metro area. Jim Sheetz was the designated  IC there.

Tulsa Metro West feeding unit leader Lou Martin of Sapulpa reported that the 31-member crew operating at Foundation Church in Sapulpa prepared 550 meals for lunch March 27 and another 550 for the evening meal that day. The operation was being supported by the Tulsa Metro North unit, led by Rob Rizzo.

American Red Cross (ARC) Emergency Response Vehicles delivered the meals to the affected areas. The ARC had established shelters at Foundation Church and at another location in Tulsa. The feeding unit prepared a total of 3,780 meals from March 27-30.

Martin said about 10 members of the feeding crew were either newly-trained volunteers, or were on their first call-out.

Feeding unit volunteers prepare peaches as part of the evening meal in Sapulpa, March 27 (Photo: Bob Nigh)

Feeding unit volunteers prepare peaches as part of the evening meal in Sapulpa, March 27 (Photo: Bob Nigh)

“They worked well together, and this gave them great experience,” he said.

Porter also visited Sand Springs, Keystone Hills—west of Sand Springs and 1/2 mile north on Prue Road—which sustained major damage to its auditorium. He delivered a check in the amount of $5,000 from the BGCO disaster relief fund to members Larry Dyer and David Healey to help the congregation pay for immediate costs as it seeks to replace its damaged auditorium, which will have to be replaced, Dyer said. Keystone Hills’ pastor Mark Bane was out of town.

“This is normal procedure to give our churches hit by storm up-front money so they can begin to work as soon as possible without worrying how they can pay for it,” Porter said. ”Hopefully their insurance will kick in soon, but they will have major decisions to make with structural damage in the days ahead.”

BGCO Disaster Relief Director Sam Porter, right, delivers a $5,000 check from BGCO disaster relief funds to Sand Springs, Keystone Hills members, from left,  Larry Dyer and David Healey (Photo: Bob Nigh)

BGCO Disaster Relief Director Sam Porter, right, delivers a $5,000 check from BGCO disaster relief funds to Sand Springs, Keystone Hills members, from left, Larry Dyer and David Healey (Photo: Bob Nigh)

Although no estimate of the damage is available yet, Dyer said Keystone Hills had an “awesome, awesome” worship service Sun., March 29 in its Fellowship Hall, with a standing-room-only crowd of around of 240 people present. He said the church normally has about 125 in attendance.

Meanwhile, the new Recovery and Repair (Tarping) units from Cimarron and Grady associations were engaged in their first disaster relief responses, where their assignment included covering damaged roofs on one church building and several residential structures, Porter said. The units worked both in Moore and Sand Springs.

The Cimarron unit is made up of volunteers from Stillwater, Southside, including Pastor Joe Day. The Grady Association unit operates out of Chickasha, and was led by Paul Gustafson.

The interior of Sand Springs, Keystone Hills’ worship center shows the destructive force of the tornado that hit the building; 6) a member of a chain saw crew trims smaller branches off a huge tree which fell on a residence in Sand Springs. (Photo: Bob Nigh)

The interior of Sand Springs, Keystone Hills’ worship center shows the destructive force of the tornado that hit the building; 6) a member of a chain saw crew trims smaller branches off a huge tree which fell on a residence in Sand Springs. (Photo: Bob Nigh)

The final unit report for the Sand Springs area showed the 3,180 meals prepared, 38 chain saw jobs completed, 21 heavy equipment jobs completed, four temporary roof jobs (Tarping) completed and 552 ministry contacts made, with 15 Gospel presentations made and nine Bibles distributed. Ministry contacts include prayer with an individual, spiritual discussions with an individual, encouragement conversations with an individual, or spiritual tracts given to an individual by any member or chaplain assigned to a team. Gospel presentations include a one-on-one presentation of the Gospel by any team member or chaplain assigned to a team to the point that an individual is presented an opportunity to receive Jesus as their personal Savior.

The final report for the Oklahoma City metro area showed six chain saw jobs and seven temporary roof jobs completed and 62 ministry contacts.

Bob Nigh

Author: Bob Nigh

Special Correspondent

View more articles by Bob Nigh.

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