With Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) volunteers busily preparing to minister to storm victims in Little Rock, Ark. on Mon. morning, April 3, other state DR volunteers were working closer to home, assisting homeowners who lost homes and other property as a result of devastating wildfires that swept across Central Oklahoma the afternoon of March 31.
One such homeowner was Patte Wagner, 75, whose 10-acre property on the west side of N. Eastern Ave. in Oklahoma City just south of NW 122nd St. was reduced to ashes. Wagner received almost immediate help after her neighbor, Sam Porter, retired Oklahoma and Southern Baptist Convention national DR director, who called in “the troops” to help clean up her property.
The most evident remnant of Wagner’s three-story, three-bedroom brick home was a prominent fireplace jutting into the sky. The retired art teacher had lived in the home since her father built it in 1962 when she was just 14 years old. Also lost in the blaze were several other buildings, including a pole barn and another barn in which Wagner’s father housed the show horses he raised.
Porter’s property, which is immediately north of Wagner’s, was damaged only minimally by the fire, which was bolstered by strong winds and aided by high-fire-danger conditions.
“We had some embers land on our roof, but most of them thankfully went over, carried away by the wind gusts,” Porter said.
Oklahoma Baptist DR volunteers also supported wildfire first responders by providing meals on Fri., March 31 and Sat., April 1.
Oklahoma Baptists’ DR director Jason Yarbrough said Oklahoma feeding unit volunteers have been asked to help prepare 1,500 meals a day in conjunction with establishing a command center at North Little Rock, Ark., Levy.
“We also are sending assessor and chaplain teams, as well as chainsaw teams, and we will provide shower and laundry units,” he commented. “We are planning to be there for three weeks, working with Arkansas Baptists and volunteers from two other state conventions which are sending teams to help those affected by tornadoes.”