Flood waters have finally begun to recede around Houston after Hurricane Harvey hammered it and area cities with billions of dollars worth of damage. And as volunteers pitch in from across the nation to provide what relief they can, Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, is poised to rock the Caribbean and southeastern states in the coming days.
Recovery from natural disasters remains at the forefront of minds nationwide, including citizens of Ardmore who have labored collecting necessities and other contributions.
Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant is one of those citizens, teaming with dozens more behind the old Harvey Douglas Funeral Home on 1st Avenue SW collecting donations for a trip down to Houston soon.
While residents in the landlocked state of Oklahoma don’t have to worry about hurricanes reaching them, they’re no strangers to tornadoes, ice storms and other weather-related calamity that can bring crippling consequences.
Several agencies around southern Oklahoma and beyond aid in the event of a disaster, the sheriff said. When law enforcement devotes all efforts into rescuing people and taming the area, all hands on deck are welcome.
“We have suffered from both ice storms as well as tornadoes in the past. And we have special protocols that go into effect,” Bryant said. “We have had nice responses from surrounding communities.”
Surrounding communities have included help from as far as the Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Norman Police Departments, he said, as well as locally from Lone Grove police. Gainesville police in Texas have even pitched in.
“That’s just how it is in law enforcement,” Bryant said. “We try to help where help is needed.”
Recovery efforts can often last several years, and Paul Tucker, director of Carter County Emergency Management, said Lone Grove is still recovering from flooding caused by Tropical Storm Bill that impacted the city back in June 2015.
Before he was the director of emergency management, he said he helped volunteer soon after the storm initially hit.
Volunteers are sent out into the community to try and gauge what residents need most. Community entities will then work to fulfill those needs.
The Emergency Management Center is designed to help citizens arm themselves with the knowledge necessary for safety in the event of a disaster. Citizens are advised to follow four phases of emergency management: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.
“The first step is to maintain a level of awareness with every agency involved — everybody gets involved,” Tucker said.