By Meta Dunn
A Tornado Strikes
At 2:56 pm, Monday, 20 May 2013, an F5 category tornado touched down west of Newcastle, Oklahoma, and headed toward the town of Moore. The tornado stayed on the ground for 39 minutes and covered a span of 17 miles. At its peak, the tornado was 1.3 miles wide. In its aftermath, 24 people were found dead, 377 were injured, and thousands of homes had been abolished.
Within 24 hours of the tornado, action was taken in Chicago to round up donations of a 50 foot refrigerated truck, a driver, and over 20 pallets of produce to help aid in the relief efforts in Moore, Oklahoma. This documents the journey from the Chicago International Produce Market to Moore, Oklahoma, and the impact made as a result of the donations.
To Market, To Market
Market hours start early, so off we were, arriving at the market at 4:30 am Friday, May 24th, to round up donations and load them on the 52-foot refrigerated truck, which was donated from Xtra Lease. There’s something exciting about being in the market in the wee hours of the morning, looking out at the Chicago skyline before the rest of town is even up!
Thanks to all who donated!
Anthony Marano & Sons
City Wide Produce Distributors
Corneille & Sons
Navilio & Sons
Additional donations of books, clothes, toiletries, and other supplies came from:
Christian Life Church
Mount Prospect Public Library
St. Alphonsus Catholic School, Chicago, Illinois
Wanda Leopold of Organic Network
The Journey Begins From Chicago to Moore
We caught a few sites along the way, mainly from the car window, and met the truck in Oklahoma City.
The produce filled most of the cooler at the Feed The Children warehouse. Thankfully, most of it was removed the same day and delivered to local churches and organizations who were providing relief to survivors of the tornado. Much thanks goes to Kirk from Feed The Children for his help in unloading, re-loading, and distributing the produce to the community.
While on a lunch break, KeAndrea and I ran into Doug Runyan of OKC Trinity Church of the Nazarene. Several donations were dropped at his church, and then we connected with a few other Nazarene churches who were also providing relief efforts. Dough, his staff and volunteers, especially Jerry, made connections and provided critical assistance with getting some of the donations to where they were desperately needed. Thanks to Todd and Stacy, volunteers at OKC Compassion, for helping bring donations to the shelter.
Mission U-Too, a church group from Texas, was stationed at the Moore Nazarene church, cooking food for surviors and relief workers, providing support on site as well as sending out vehicles into the surrounding area. With the donations we brough, fresh fruit was added to the meals people received!
75 percent of the donations were delivered on day one of our arrival to Oklahoma City!
With the hard work of the staff at Feed The Children in collaboration with the Oklahoma City Regional Food Bank, as well as the connections KeAndrea and I made with the Church of the Nazarene, we were able to get a majority of the donations into the hands of organizations who were providing relief to those in Moore, Oklahoma, on the first day of our arrival. Continued work was done by Feed the Children to ensure that all donations were delivered to areas of need throughout the following week.
Relief Efforts Extend Beyond Produce
Food, supplies, and clean up efforts were the most pressing needs at the time of arrival. Once produce donations were handed out for the day, we began work ensuring people were taken care of. Clean up and restoration will take months, even years. Support in the initial efforts were greatly appreciated. Continued support via donations and physical labor will be needed for the long run.
Mass Chaos in Suburbia
Roofs and housing materials littered the ground and vehicles were piled on top.
Damage to Homes Varied Block by Block
Some families were fortunate, their homes were left standing. Other families were not so lucky.
Despite the destruction and loss, some were able to maintain a sense of humor. The sign on the left says “House for Sale. Price Reduced. Some Assembly Required”. The house on the right has a sign saying “Open House”.
Whole Neighborhoods Destroyed
One entire neighborhood was in shambles. One day, bustling with families and life, and the next filled with rubble and stragglers trying to pick up the pieces. Gas stations, schools, administrative centers, and small businesses were not spared from the wrath of the tornado.
Only Remnants Remain
Amongst the rubble, you could find traces of life—bicycles, swimming pools, toys, books, and clothes. Cars and trucks were thrown about during the 200+ mph winds of the storm. Some homes even had cars crashed into them. Pieces of what once was, never to be the same again. One can only hope that in time, the lives will be restored and the families will grow stronger than before.
Support and Clean Up Efforts In Full Force
Dumpsters upon dumpsters were lined up in communities. The power company was working around the clock restoring lines, brining power to communities who’d been without electricity for days. An outpouring of support came from people and organizations throughout the United States. Mission U-Too from Bastrop, Texas, joined with the Moore Church of Nazarene to provide warm meals to residents and relief workers. Many other groups from OK and other states were doing similar work throughout the area. Their services were greatly appreciated.
In addition to helping get the produce donations to the areas of need, Feed The Children also held a supplies giveaway event at a local community college on Sunday, May 26th. Much needed supplies, such as shovels, gloves, laundry detergent, food, baby supplies, and much more were on hand for residents to load up on. Others were sent out to the community to help distribute the supplies to those who were cleaning up in the community.
Thanks to all for their generous donations and support. Lives were impacted, people were changed.