Shawnee Church Group To Help WV Flood Victims, One Year Later
SHAWNEE, Oklahoma - During natural disasters, Oklahomans answer the call to help. This week, it's been comforting our own following the deadly tornado in Elk City.
Now, one group is heading to the East Coast to bring relief to those still hurting from the last year's deadly floods.
“We’re called to go to Richwood, West Virginia,” said Frank Kelly of Aydelotte Baptist Church in Shawnee.
In June 2016, devastating floods in West Virginia killed dozens of people and swept away many communities. Six months ago, Kelly started planning a trip there to help. On Sunday, the congregation prepared him and his group for their mission, through song and prayer.
“As we know in Oklahoma after a tragedy like a tornado or something happens, there's the initial relief but then as time goes on, things start to fade away and it's harder,” he said.
Kelly knows that struggle first hand, seeing the devastation in his own community during the deadly 2013 tornadoes and most recently, the one that hit Elk City.
“I was watching the TV like everybody else, thinking ‘OK, do I need to change my plan if something happened?’” he said.
However, he decided to stand by his commitment to travel to the Richwood as planned -- one of many West Virginia communities wiped out by the floods.
“There's a lot of people that still don't have anything, they're relying on a food pantry, they're relying on government disaster help,” Kelly said.
Eleven members including high school and college students loaded up a relief trailer with books, clothing and other supplies to take with them on their 18-hour journey.
“I'm looking forward to just being able to serve wherever we can,” said Kendra Burch, one of the church members going on the mission.
While there, the group will help to rebuild a church, establish a community food pantry and spread hope.
“Those people are looking for someone to love on them and just be there for them,” said Burch. “We don't know what they're going through, we can kind of relate but just being there to give them comfort.”
“We get so wrapped up in the American dream, we tend to get focused on that and we lose sight of service and helping others,” said Kelly. “No matter who you are and what's going on, you can serve somehow.”
The group leaves Monday morning and will spend about 10 days in West Virginia.