Today I spent a lot of time talking with people about the long road to recovery here in Oklahoma. In the days following any disaster, people often feel called to help in any way they can. Volunteers, supplies, money – they all come pouring in (hopefully). It is a week, a month, and a year later that the families who suffered are still in need of help, but the media has stopped covering the story, and the public has moved on to other things. It is that time that we need to be focused on. Right now, Oklahoma is awash in aid. It has come from every corner of the country. In two weeks time it will be a completely different story.
Today our donors dollars bought underwear, bras and flashlights for the women here. After a survey of the distribution centers, these were the items that were most in need, but in short supply. Volunteer leaders told me that as soon as a bra would come in, it would go right back out the door. They couldn’t keep up the stock. So that is where COHI put your gracious offerings.
We want to make sure that we provide help where, when and how it is needed. To that end, we have also organized a team of volunteers who will be meeting tomorrow morning to learn how to conduct a women’s health needs assessment. This assessment will be crucial to the recovery process and will help organizations aiding in the recovery to know exactly what women need and how they need it. We can’t fix something until we know it’s broken. And we can’t fill gaps in this process until we know where they are.
As I go to bed tonight, I think about the thousands of Oklahomans who are sleeping in temporary shelters. They don’t know where they will go tomorrow or how they will rebuild their lives or their livelihoods. There is almost a palpable sadness in the air. You can see it on people’s faces as they tell you about their best friend who lost their home, a friend of a friend who lost their life, another friend of a friend who lost their baby. Everybody here knows someone who was affected.
But in the midst of the darkness, I will send a ray of sunshine your way. Tomorrow the city of Moore will be opened up again. It has been closed to visitors due to power lines and dangerous debris, as well as to allow first responders to do their jobs without onlookers getting in the way. But tomorrow at dawn it will open again. And there will be volunteers there, from dawn till dusk, giving their time for free to haul out the garbage, to give hugs and solace, and to help the residents of Moore rebuild their city and their lives. And that is beautiful!
In love and light,