Volunteer team in front of their van

— Photo by Susan Sytsma Bratt

The month of May 2013 produced 62 tornados in the state of Oklahoma. One of the worst hit locations was Moore, Oklahoma, a southern suburb of Oklahoma City, on May 20, 2013. 24 people were killed, and there was more than $2 billion in property damage.

On Sunday September 28, a dozen Northridgers caravanned to Oklahoma to help the people in Moore continue rebuilding their lives. We worked with the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project, which is a collaboration of a half dozen or so agencies including the Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and Oklahoma United Methodist Church among others. We were assigned to a house in Moore, which had suffered extensive flood and wind damage after the roof of the house was ripped off in the tornado. The house is owned by a 27 year old single dad with a young daughter who are relying on volunteers to make their house habitable once again.

Over the course of the week, we sanded, mudded and primed the walls, doors and ceilings inside the house and garage in preparation for texturing. In addition window frames were precisely measured, cut and installed, closet doors were carefully framed and hung, outside brickwork was acid washed and caulk both inside and outside the house was applied. By the time we left the house was several steps closer for the young dad and his daughter to move back in.

The group stayed at the First Presbyterian Church just north of downtown Oklahoma City. Whitey Hershorn prepared scrumptious, delicious dinners at night. Some of the entrees included gumbo, smoked pork ribs and amazingly tender beef tips. Each morning Whitey was up at 4:45 to prepare a “high protein” breakfast (biscuits and gravy, sausage or bacon and eggs) to prepare us for our tiring but very rewarding days at the work site.

Before the group left Oklahoma City Friday morning we made about a 2 hour stop at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. It was a very moving experience for all of us to see this remembrance for the 168 people who lost their lives in the Murrah building bombing of April, 1995. All of us left Oklahoma City in awe of the great resilience and perseverance of their residents.

We are grateful for Jay Kopel’s leadership in organizing this trip and managing our work efforts every day so that each person contributed to the maximum success of our work. We are also most grateful to our Northridge family who kept us in their prayers over the week. The trip was a most gratifying trip for all.


Thank you to Vince George for sharing your story from the Northridge Presbyterian Church of Dallas, Texas, adult mission trip to Moore in September/October 2014



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