Sunday was a day that was hot and humid but perfect for working on outdoor projects. I was in Norman and had gone to the big store ostensibly to get a “few things” and came home with an entire back car full of plants, planters and dirt. I needed to do some digging after my first week of work, needed to just try to be normal for a bit. Mark was running around assembling things for the first Summer Breeze concert. We were all watching the weather which we had been assured would flair up about 3pm in the afternoon.
We had inquiries all day long as to the Summer Breeze. John Fullbright was the talent that night, and we fully expected to fill the park to the max for this concert. At some point, the clouds did roll in, Mark came home, weather tv was on and things started to spark. The show was officially cancelled. We had sirens, and the first was really close to our house before it traveled east and tore all hell up in Shawnee. Knowing that it was past us, I was just watching and commenting on the weather tv I was watching and went to bed early. The next day was Monday and I had to go to work and was worried about that morning commute from Norman. Monday was day 5 on the job and I wanted to be fresh and ready for everything.
Monday morning the sober fact came to me that part of my district had been hit. The Shawnee area is my area. I got the names of my Community Service Team Managers for the area and made phone calls to check on them, and introduce myself. No one was really worried about it, they didn’t have any reports of girls in crisis, or troops in crisis. Ok. Well. Ok.
And then noon came, and the weather started to change. I forget what it’s like to work with a group of women in a different age demographic. The anxiety levels go way up. Several that I work with are not from Oklahoma and this make Springtime weather even more awful for them. Things started to pop up on our computers, warnings, hail cores. We were allowed to leave early. I drove home in scary rains and some hail, thanking God I wasn’t headed to Norman. (If I was to have already lived in Norman, I wouldn’t have left) I got home and turned on the tv and Mark called me immediately. One the threat was past us in the Village, Lynn came over. We watched. We watched and watched.
Newcastle, Moore, it was being eaten alive before our eyes by the biggest, scariest thing that will fill our nightmares for years to come. (I have tornado nightmares all the time)
Talking on the phones before Norman lost all power/internet/cell service (they are five minutes south of the disaster) I said to Mark…”it’s my entire district. Between yesterday and today, my whole district has been affected.” We both just kept saying , “no. No no No Moore, not again, no please not again.”
Emails with supervisors throughout the evening placed me at the emergency GS disaster meeting the next morning instead of at programming with the girls as originally assigned. I had been given reports and reports and more reports, none of them I could read as I haven’t been trained on our system yet. Tuesday was day 6 on the job.
Massive amounts of information was needed, I was the point person on the task as they were my people, I was so worried at the potential for loss of life, the loss of all of it and yet I had no idea who these people were, what names were my CST Managers, where they lived. I had reports of names and groups and labels (sort of ) of volunteers/leaders/groups etc…and addresses. I sent those to Mark and he geo-mapped them, pinned each one, then circled the tornado’s path. We started with those names.
Eventually we formed a list of those ok.
We needed a list of those that were not.
Each hour was another thing needed that I didn’t know how to do. Each hour was another request for information that I didn’t have an answer for. I knew it was out there, I knew that in a few weeks I would be trained in how to get it…just not today. Today was still day 6.
The next day I was scheduled into all day meetings with my supervisor and the other CDE’s for our state. Each girl looked at me with that , “holy crap girl, your week…let me know if I can help you” It was a great time to know who our team is. We got a ton of info thrown at us, I was pretty much the only one who just put it into a stack and thought…I will understand you someday.” In our inner-departmental meeting I introduced myself because I was new, then rolled right into a report on my troops/volunteers in crisis, where we were on crafting our message of relief, our plan of action, what we still didn’t know and that I was working as hard as I could to find that information.This was my 7th day and I needed some training on so much more. That day, we also found the name of two girls who died in the Plaza Towers Elementary School. One girl, JaNae, was a former Girl Scout, enrolled in our in-school program in 2012. Sweet sweet smiling baby girl. My left eye started twitching that day.
Thursday I was at programming for the morning with some 9th grade girls from US Grant. I was exhausted. I drank wine with Amy the night before and it restored my soul, but exacerbated my mental and physical exhaustion. They were some squirrley kids, for sure. It was pouring down rain, so we were confined to a virtual tour in a classroom. Not nearly as fun. LUNCH and the free snowcones however proved a delight. At any opportunity I talked to them about school and future. We had many future cosmetologists in our group. The fact that I was one, and had some degrees, and had done a few things like be an actor professionally, own a bookshop, work behind the stage, etc was kind of mind boggling. But then at the end of the program, one of the girls left this comment on the blog.
I really liked that I learned a bunch of ways to start my future for college. I really enjoyed my group leader Misti, she accomplished everything she wanted, so that gives me a reality check that so can I. I liked the part where we ate snow cones, quite yummy! Ha ha. I enjoyed the mentor at the beginning of the program, she was very enthusiastic. Today was overall a five out five stars.
Back at the office I was meeting with our CEO and putting together our lists of girls and families in crisis in my area. Talking about each of them, talking about our plans for relief. Shannon got the number of a relative to the girl that died. I knew this would be a horrible phone call and went back to my cubicle across from her office.
Speaking to the child’s great grandmother, knowing the child and lost her mother just a year ago, this family had been through so much…The things I heard were “we want to help. The Girl Scouts are here for you. Let us provide the food for the funeral. The servers too. . . . no. She was a member in 2012. But once a Girl Scout always a Girl Scout.”
That was when I put my head down and cried.
I listened a bit more. I’ll be at the funeral a week from today. GS is making plans to help on so many levels. The relief we can offer comes in many forms. Camperships to those girls that just need to get away for some fun. Replacement uniforms and Journey books, these things we will discover are needed when school starts and everything is still…gone. I had clarity and made my own plan and reached out to my CST managers and formed a plan with them. I knew that we would have a Friday morning with more information than we had on Monday. I knew that we would be prepared for what was coming, and that the support was, unlike the cookies, never ending.
This was the 8th day.