In our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown, we are reminded of this refreshing attribute of mankind almost daily.
None will ever forget the nightmare of April 27, 2011, and then again its repeat on March 2, 2012. On both occasions, violence of horrific design devastated our community in the ugliness of marauding tornadoes that took precious lives, property and dreams.
But on both historic dates, and especially the first when five confirmed twisters descended upon the innocent, emergency organizations, civic groups, nonprofit ministries — and individual volunteers — combined their resources with local government to help Cleveland area victims to their feet, and to rebuild a staggered community.
Help came from within.
Help came from the outside.
Help came from all corners of hope where outreach is far more than a word; it is a way of life.
Locally, we saw the miracle of humanity bloom again early last week when a murderous EF5 tornado swept across the unsuspecting residents of Moore, Okla. It left some 26 dead. It flattened a town, similar in size to our own. It destroyed a school. It killed children. It ravaged hope. It devastated dreams.
Into these ashes of catastrophe rallied unbelievable numbers of responders — emergency agencies, church groups, rebuilding teams sponsored through civic organizations and platoons of individuals who traveled in caravans, their cars, pickups and vans loaded with the tools of recovery and an unrelenting support of emotion and love.
Many responders were once themselves victims of nature’s fury. They best understand its trauma, the utter ache of hopelessness and the inevitable despair of surrender that follow such undeserved attacks.
No doubt, our Cleveland and Bradley County community sent multiple teams to the rescue of Moore, Okla. Obviously, we have not been made aware of them all. Such response comes not for the recognition, but for the humanitarian care.
One organization that did capture our attention is Operation Compassion, a Cleveland-based “Ministry of Blessing” affiliated with the Church of God. Our newspaper featured the group’s response to the residents of Moore on the front page of last Sunday’s edition.
In keeping with its doctrine of providing for the needs of people, and especially in dire predicaments, Operation Compassion wasted no time formulating a strategy for relief efforts as soon as tragedy in the Oklahoma town became apparent.
The nonprofit agency quickly collaborated with its disaster relief network of partners and mobilized. All was done immediately. All acts were unconditional.
The massive EF5 struck at mid-afternoon Monday. The first of 25 semi-trailers of bottled water, blankets, food and cleaning supplies from Operation Compassion rolled out of warehouses early Tuesday morning. In addition to supplying basic survival needs, disaster relief chaplains were deployed to help survivors deal with the emotional upheaval to their lives. By Wednesday, the organization was sending heavy equipment, cleanup crews and building partners.
Though Cleveland-based, Operation Compassion is a global network, one whose work is unparalleled yet one which serves as a willing partner to any who will join hands in recovery wherever the need, whenever the catastrophe and whatever the challenge.
Certainly others from Cleveland and Bradley County are involved in reshaping the lives of our Oklahoma brothers. Perhaps in time we will know their names. Operation Compassion is just one of many of these caregivers whose valued outreach can never be properly underscored.
We thank the organization for its work.
We salute the many locals who have traveled to the Plains state to rekindle a fire of hope in the hearts of all whose lives were reduced to a dying ember, all within just a few horrifying moments in time.