My first few hours in Oklahoma have been a whirlwind. I would say Norman is in a state of “positive chaos”. We are 9 miles away from the destruction in Moore, and the traffic is horrible. Interstate 35, which connects Norman to Moore, is backed up bumper-to-bumper all the way. Other relief workers I spoke with are saying that the 9 mile trip can take upwards of 2 hours. The makeshift distribution and housing centers, set up in churches, schools, and businesses all over town, remind me of disturbed anthills. People are scurrying in every direction. Some are organizing temporary housing for the displaced to stay. Some are organizing other volunteers. Some are grilling hot dogs and handing them out. Some are giving out free massages! Every person, in their own unique way, is working to bring relief to their neighbors from the town just next door.
Of course, we at COHI are working to bring aid to the women and children, as we do. Although we arrived late this afternoon, we have already visited two of the main relief sites here in Norman. Tomorrow we will speak with midwives, first responders, relief agencies, and the women themselves, to get a sense of what the real need is here. The people of Oklahoma, and Americans from all over the county, have been immensely generous in donating their time and supplies. The response is positively amazing to see. It makes me realize very deeply that, yes, it really is possible to put aside all differences, all disagreement, and just help each other. And although we are in the wake of a tornado, it doesn’t have to take destruction and suffering for people to lay aside their differences and just help one another. We can do it any day. Anytime. Anywhere. We can give a little or we can give a lot. We can give our own unique thing. There is always a way to help.
So as I say goodnight, I will leave you with that to ponder. It has been quite a day. Stay tuned in the days to come to see more on how COHI is contributing our own unique brand of help here in the heartland.