Woodward, Okla. — By Alan Riffel
We are only four months removed now from the epic tornado that impacted Woodward so tremendously. Yet, I repeatedly get asked by people across the state, “So, are you all recovered from the tornado now?” In this instant-access world that focuses so greatly on the present, it seems to some now that things are bustling across town again that we have put all that behind us. Folks, that is far from the fact.
Even when there have been numerous sources of information outlining for months how people can get help in their particular circumstances, we still receive calls at City Hall about someone in need of assistance who has never entered the case management system. Often, it is the individual or family who never wanted to be in a position of asking for help, but may have reached a point of nowhere else to turn.
In fact, now it is becoming more apparent to those involved with delivering assistance that the anticipated cases of under-insured homeowners, or persistent situations of ongoing needs, are surfacing. As homes are being rebuilt, it is being recognized that some gaps in recovery may exist for some people who previously didn’t expect to be in need. Most Northwest Oklahomans are a proud bunch that just relies on individual fortitude to provide whatever is demanded, and it is not easy to find one’s self in a dilemma.
Rest assured that the recovery efforts continue to be addressed in all cases known to the teams handling these missions. But, with such a wide-ranging array of needs, these dedicated volunteers will be working for many months ahead to assure that anyone in need from the effects of that tornado is assisted in the best manner possible.
Along those same lines, the new outdoor warning system is fully installed and operational now. The battery backup devices are in place, and the mobile alert technology is functional. The next steps in that regard are the removal of the former equipment, inventorying the units, and declaring them surplus for distribution to surrounding communities. Several towns have indicated their desire to utilize those sirens, and Woodward will distribute them as fairly and quickly as possible at no cost to our neighbors. That is simply an extension of the gracious donation of the Apache Corporation to help multiple cities.
We have all known that the road to recovery is a long one. But now that it has been some time since the initial event, this may have become somewhat harder than expected for someone you know. Encourage anyone in those predicaments to contact the Red Cross. That is still the first stop for getting the help that is needed. Nobody has to walk alone in Woodward.
Alan Riffel is Woodward’s city manager