Grey looming clouds hung heavy in the Creek County air last Saturday as I drove into Sapulpa to visit family. To the unknowing, the dark sky would have signaled a welcoming rain in this never ending drought, but to Oklahoma residents, it was a symbol of fear and heartbreak as wildfires ripped across their hometowns.
As I sat in my Aunt and Uncle’s living room, watching scenes from the fires glaring at me from the evening news, and evacuation notices scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen I couldn’t shake the helpless feeling that was beginning to overwhelm me.
I should be there, I should be helping!
Over and over those thoughts rolled through my head, picking up urgency as more Creek Co. towns were forced to evacuate.
Up until very recently I was a Wildland Firefighter. Most little girls want to grow up to be teachers, nurses, movie stars, and while later in my childhood I explored all those options, 5-year-old me informed my mother I was going to be a firefighter when I grew up. And I did, just that, however juggling college and firefighting is not the easiest task, and I was forced to give it up this past year in order to focus on school and graduation.
For me I always loved the adrenaline rush and excitement that walks hand in hand with fighting fire, but Saturday as I sat helplessly on the couch a different feeling began set in. Instead of feeling disgruntled that I was missing out on the action, I could feel my heart breaking.
Mannford, Oklahoma is the first town I lived in after my family’s move from Louisiana. To this day it holds the record for the longest I have ever lived in one place. This little lake town nestled just slightly outside of Tulsa holds a large part of my heart, and my childhood. I know this town like the back of my hand. It’s where I learned to fish, climb trees, where I was baptized and where I had my first kiss, one August evening under a porch light. During my last two years of college it even served as my refuge. When college or life would start to feel like it was spiraling out of control I would make the 40 minute drive from Stillwater to Mannford to sit out by the lake to just think or to be in the place that felt the most like “home.”
So Saturday as I sat there watching wildfires tear across one of the places I call home, knowing I had the training and experience to help, but couldn’t, left me with knots in my stomach and a heaviness in my heart I couldn’t shake. My parents must have been watching the news as well and sensing how torn I was feeling, because during my drive back to Fairland later that evening I received a phone call with them ensuring I was on my way home and not trying to find someway to get into Mannford.
There was nothing I could do though… or so I thought.
Last night I was contacted by an acquaintance from Mannford via Facebook asking if there was anyway I could help get the word out through my blog. She went on to tell me how many area producers are left without hay and feed for their livestock, and how 60+ families have been left homeless. I know right now everyone’s wallets are a little empty, but if anyone has extra items laying around the house, or has a church family that would like to get involved, I will be listing all the donation information and where it needs to be sent below. If anything, I ask that you please keep all the families of Creek Co., as well as others effected by the Oklahoma wildfires in your thoughts and prayers during this time of restoring and healing.
To get involved
Objects and Monetary Donations can be mailed to or physically dropped off at:
Mannford Public Schools
136 Evans Ave
Mannford, OK 74044
To help Creek Co. farmers and ranchers, a hay and feed donation site has been established at the Creek County Fairgrounds. Individuals interested in donating or receiving hay or feed should contact Sherman Grubb at (918) 244-2194. All livestock feed is accepted, but cattle and horse feed is particularly needed. The fairgrounds are located at:
Creek County Fairgrounds
17808 W. Hwy 66
Any other questions or thoughts about how you can help feel free to contact me.