A series of thunderstorms throughout the state Tuesday could do little to quell an avalanche of aid, hope and prayer descending on the embattled city of Moore.
Throughout the state and nation, people rose up in unison to provide much needed comfort to neighbors they had never met. Volunteers and aid began arriving Monday night in what would prove to be the tip of the spear. It was during that time, millions of people watched the horrific images and wondered what they could do to help. By Tuesday morning, a mobilization was in effect.
For Derek and Stacey Sisemore, the destruction hit home in a personal way as many of their friends were personally affected. The couple moved from Moore to the Plainview School District in January and remain close with many that lost their homes.
"I moved here for work and when this happened, it hit home," Derek Sisemore said. "All our friends lived within a two-mile radius. Our kids played sports in Moore and five kids that played with my son are homeless as well as kids they played against. We just had to do something."
Sisemore called his boss at Multimedia Games and was told to do what he needed to do. They parked a U-Haul truck by Plainview Elementary Tuesday afternoon, taking donations. They planned to leave around 4 p.m. and take the collections to Moore to provide relief.
"We went to Walmart and Lowe's and cleaned them out with what I could afford," Sisemore said.
He said while at Walmart, when people saw what he was doing they donated money to help purchase items. Lowe's pitched in with a discount as well.
Earlier Tuesday, employees at Budro's Rib Joint arrived as early as 5 a.m. to begin preparing over 1,500 sandwiches. Donations of water, money, diapers and formula were also made as plans were formed to leave the parking lot by 11 a.m. for Moore.
"We asked people to donate water and a lot of employees also donated," Patrick Simon said. "We are also going to collect clothes for the victims."
Simon said Bimbo Bakery/Sara Lee donated 1,500 buns for the barbecue sandwiches that were prepared throughout Tuesday morning. Patrick, Buddy Simon and Caren Braunagel own both Budros and Diamond Dogs. Plans originally called for making the donation out of the Diamond Dog location in Norman.
"We thought about donating hot dogs but we are here," Buddy Simon said. "When the Lone Grove tornado hit, we took food out there and this is just second nature to do something. People have donated water and made financial donations and we are going to stop at Sam's on the way and buy more supplies. My heart just breaks for the people out there."
The number of people and organizations also spearheading relief efforts were staggering. Two trailers were set up in Healdton and in Murray County; the Sulphur FFA was collecting toys for children affected by the tornado. The Sulphur Chamber of Commerce also announced drop-off points at Landmark Bank in Sulphur and Davis as well as Arbuckle Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Ardmore churches were also busy collecting donations. Maxwell Avenue Church of Christ and Northwest Baptist Church collected items Tuesday for quick delivery. St. Philip's Episcopal Church developed drop-off points at its building, Oak Hall and Ardmore Village to collect non-perishable items, bottled water and Tylenol, Advil and similar medications. Financial donations were also being accepted.
First United Methodist Church is collecting a trailer of supplies at the Colvert Ministry Center lobby for shipment Friday. Items being accepted are work gloves, big tubs, tools, baby supplies/diapers and packaged ready-to-eat food items. For additional details, people are encouraged to contact Terry Myer at email@example.com or call (580) 504-2565.
Several entities were planning to sponsor drop-off points this weekend. The Lone Grove Police Department officers and wives, along with dispatchers, will collect items at the department from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
"The Red Cross said they really didn't have a way of getting food into Moore so money is needed," Ashley Huff, wife of officer Michael Huff, said. "But they are storing food and will be able to get it to them as needed. We are collecting food, sunscreen, clothing, and gloves, whatever we can. A couple of people are also donating diapers and toys to give to the kids. We are accepting anything that we can get to the people and help them rebuild. I know there are a lot of people wanting to give and there can't be enough donations."
Huff also said the department is looking to also help those in need in Shawnee where a tornado struck Sunday.
The Southern Oklahoma Tea Party had scheduled a collection drive for the Ardmore Veterans Center Saturday and will instead provide donated items for tornado relief.
"We are asking for anything but clothing items," Tommy Spradling said. "I got off the phone with First Baptist Church in Moore and they are asking for non-perishable items."
The drop-off is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Central Park.
"They can put items in the trailer and I will drive them up there Saturday. It looks like a war zone in Moore and we decided it would be better to do this," Spradling said.
Tracy Johnston started Pay It Forward two years ago and was also planning to do her part and help gather items while working with other organizations.
"I am working with Sunshine Community Church in Sulphur and we are getting water, Gatorade and prepackaged stuff," she said. "We are also gathering stuff to take the humane society. It's trying to match people with their needs and we will meet up with what we have."