By the time the monster tornado lifted off the ground on Monday, Oklahomans were looking for ways to help. Hester Designs sent graphic designer Chris McLaughlin to help our neighbors clean up debris and begin rebuilding the city of Moore.
Volunteers met in Moore beyond the destruction zone and walked over the I-35 bridge, past the heavily damaged Warren Theatre. As Chris walked into town, he looked over his shoulder and was amazed at a line of volunteers stretching as far as he could see. Leaders had asked for 500 people to clean a cemetery, but 1,000 showed up on Wednesday.
Chris felt “a real sense of community coming together to try to take care of everybody else,” he said. “I felt like it was the right thing to do. I felt like I had to do something.”
The volunteers set to work clearing debris—wood, metal and indistinct pieces of a community ripped to shreds by 200 mph winds. They came together to heave toppled gravestones back into place. And then they began asking nearby residents what they could do to help. On the periphery of destruction, Chris found homeowners whose houses were mostly in tact but whose yards were in shambles. Even at the edges of the tornado’s effects, housing insulation covered everything in sight, and the air was heavy with dust and dirt.
In the neighborhood, Chris witnessed neighbors helping neighbors. One man had an industrial mower that he used to clear paper bits from people’s yards after larger pieces of debris had been removed. Another person had a truck bed full of Gatorade that he distributed to anyone out helping. Food trucks, companies and individual grillmasters were everywhere, feeding the workers for free. Churches set up base camps of supplies, and donors set out cases of water at regular intervals for whoever needed it.
“It was just pretty amazing,” Chris said, “to see all the people who came out there to help.”