Commonwealth Journal

May 23, 2013

Local relief drive for Oklahoma storm victims underway

By CHRIS HARRIS, CJ Staff Writer
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

If you’ve been watching coverage of the Oklahoma tornado devastation and wondering how you could make a difference, you’ll have your chance in the coming days.
The Operation Oklahoma Relief Project — an endeavor by Clear Channel-Lake Cumberland — is currently in progress. Wynona Padgett, who is helping spearhead the project for the radio station, said that those interested in contributing to the cause will have numerous opportunities to do so this weekend and into next week.
That includes dropping off needed items at any of the radio’s live remote broadcasts this Memorial Day weekend — as there will be several in conjunction with Somernites Cruise events today and Saturday — and at Eagle Heights Church, located on Jessie Lane off the East Ky. 914 bypass starting Tuesday of the coming week.
Today only, those interested can also drop off requested items at the Clear Channel-Lake Cumberland station at 101 First Radio Lane in Somerset.
Items that are needed to help volunteers in the Oklahoma City area during their recovery efforts following this week’s tornado destruction include:
• heavy-duty trash bags
• shovels and rakes
• items for babies (diapers, formula, clothes, bottles, baby food, etc.)
• feminine products  
• tarps
• hand sanitizers
• cleaning supplies
• snack foods
Padgett noted that quick, easy-to-eat snacks like granola bar or Little Debbie products are desired because they’ll be available for workers in Oklahoma. “Volunteers can grab them,” she said. “Most are not taking the time to take full lunch breaks.”
Cleaning supplies may include bleach, paper towels, brooms, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers and more.
“A pastor I spoke to said that even the houses that were not destroyed still have a lot of dirt inside,” said Padgett.
She noted that this is a locally-organized project, not company-wide for Clear Channel.
“It’s just something we’re doing,” she said. However, she added, “We’re encouraging everyone to donate to the Red Cross, even if you don’t donate items to us. That money goes directly to help victims.”
Somernites Cruise will be collecting items during its events this weekend, and the radio will have live remotes with drop-off access at the Meet & Greet at Danny’s Rod Shop this afternoon and the Block Party in downtown Somerset tonight, and also at the Show and Shine downtown tomorrow and at the U.S. 27 Dairy Queen location tomorrow night.
Coretrans trucking trailers will be outside of Eagle Heights Church on Tuesday. Coretrans is partnering with Somernites Cruise and Clear Channel in the relief effort. Individuals can come by and drop off items there, with the goal of filling two whole trailers.
“We would like to get the first trailer filled as quickly as possible,” said Padgett, noting that they’d like to have it on the road by Wednesday or Thursday. She added that needs may change as the process goes along, so the second trailer will be able to handle those potential developments.
The trucks will be there next week because Padgett knows it may be harder to get items together during the Memorial Day holiday.
“Right now everyone has vacation on their mind,” she said. “We wanted to wait until Tuesday before we started staffing (the relief effort collection).”
The EF5 tornado which wiped out the Oklahoma City suburb Moore on Monday left damages in the billions of dollars and killed a couple dozen people. While saddened for the destruction that happened and eager to be able to help the Oklahomans put their lives back together, Padgett knows it could have been worse.
“I think one of the things that strikes me most is how widespread the devastation was, how big an area it affected,” she said. “The fact that only 24 people died says a lot about their preparedness there. Being in Oklahoma, they’re more used to this type of weather, they know what to expect. They know to get to a shelter immediately. That makes a big difference.”