In a world full of people, places and things working hard to ‘get out of whatever we can possibly get out of', it's nice to see the state of Oklahoma and Oklahomans working in the complete opposite direction. It turns out we didn't have to experience a Katrina or a Rita for Oklahomans stand up and say, "How can we help?".
Gustav packed a fairly powerful punch. However our state could have very easily stayed out of the mix, watched the coverage on TV (presumably News 9), not offered to help, and it likely would not been missed. Instead we stepped up to offer some of my fellow homies from Louisiana a place to lay their head, to eat and to basically escape the potentially deadly winds and flooding rains.
Now many of the evacuees did show their appreciation, however I'll be the first to admit, some of my fellow Lake Charles-ians weren't overly grateful for what was being done for them. They clearly have some sort of transportation problems - otherwise they wouldn't have gotten on a bus for Oklahoma City. And we can only assume they don't have any family within a day's drive of the Gulf, or you would think those love ones would have driven south to pick them up. Regardless, they needed assistance and Oklahomans stepped in.
For the sake of the Red Cross volunteers, the Oklahoma Baptist Men volunteers and all other volunteers at the evacuee shelter - and the various law enforcement officers and deputies, I say thank you! Thank you on behalf of the evacuees who may not have taken the time, or even thought about it, or cared to consider how their temporary life inside an abandoned warehouse in Oklahoma City was probably better and safer than the life they left in Louisiana.
And when Hurricane Ike threatens the Gulf later this week, I'm sure Oklahoma and Oklahomans will be the first to ask, "How can we help?". And we won't think twice about helping those Louisiana evacuees, even the ones who forgot to say thank you.
(DeRidder, LA native and former resident of Lake Charles, LA)