To Whom It May Concern,
Recovering Oklahomans After Disaster (ROAD) will be a vital partner in aiding the state’s most vulnerable residents following emergency events. Chad Detwiler, Kevin Walker, and Hal Wright have been instrumental in assisting thousands of Oklahoma families as part of the Oklahoma United Methodist Disaster Response (OKUMC-DR) ministry. These three men have served the disaster community as principal volunteer organizers and construction project managers following the four central Oklahoma tornadoes in 2013, state-wide flooding in 2015, numerous ice storms, flooding in Lawton and Maysville, tornado events in Tulsa, wildfire recovery, and other disasters around the state.
When OKUMC’s disaster response ministry closed, Chad, Kevin, and Hal established ROAD to continue the vital work of mobilizing volunteers and repairing homes for those impacted by disasters. Most disasters in Oklahoma do not receive any assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for families or individuals. Our non-profit partners are our first and last line of defense in assisting families when federal programs are not available. Even when federal assistance is available, it is usually a small fraction of the total cost of repairs, which leaves Oklahomans on fixed incomes, those with disabilities, and single parents and their children especially vulnerable to further hardships. Without the efforts of ROAD to continue to recruit volunteers and repair homes, many families will simply never recover.
Disasters begin and end in the local community, but many communities may struggle with recovering from even small disaster events that leave a few dozen families or individuals without housing. Reliance on national non-profits is unrealistic in the face of numerous large disasters across the country, including fires, hurricanes, severe storms, and others hazards. The commitment of ROAD to serve local communities across Oklahoma, as well as the institutional knowledge and capacity of their staff, offer the best hope for successful outcomes for vulnerable Oklahomans to repair their homes and resume their lives.
Recovering Oklahomans After Disaster has a unique mission and capacity, a professional staff with an established history of success and innovative practices, and a demonstrated ability to provide holistic construction services during and after disasters. Please join us in welcoming ROAD to the Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and support this vital organization.
Luke N. Pratt
Individual Assistance Officer, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
To Whom It May Concern:
As the Chair of the Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster I believe it is important to stress our Oklahoma VOAD support of the organization being formed to continue the work that has been done these last five years by OKUMC Disaster Response.
With OKUMC Disaster Response in the process of closing we are critically aware that this leaves a gap in disaster services that needs to be filled. While the employment of those doing this vital work with the United Methodist Church will terminate the end of October, we are thankful that they are committed to continuing this effort and are in the process of obtaining their 501(c)3 status and will be transitioning to Recovering Oklahomans After Disaster (ROAD).
Oklahoma VOAD endorses the need for their continued efforts as ROAD and is excited they intend to continue providing these vitally needed recovery services for Oklahomans impacted by disaster. This group has excelled in providing this much needed work over the last five years and we hope will continue to do so long into the future as ROAD.
Please join Oklahoma VOAD in support of these much-needed efforts.
Chair, Oklahoma VOAD
October 29, 2018
To Whom It May Concern:
All disasters and needs that are served are local. This is why Mennonite Disaster Service and organizations like ROAD (Recovering Oklahomans After Disaster), a non-profit organized by Chad Detwiler, is necessary to maintain the VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) group and give hope to hundreds of Oklahoma victims of floods, tornadoes, fires and other natural disasters that occur within our state. Since the dissolution of the group Chad and his associates were working for, there is now a huge void in the VOAD organization. ROAD will be taking up where their previous organization left off.
The main asset to the VOAD group has been assessing damage, organizing volunteers and supervising home repairs. Very few groups stay in an area for long term recovery. Our volunteer groups are still working to finish up flood projects from 2015.
Large national groups receive a lot of attention and funding but usually only show up for FEMA declared disasters and have high overhead costs. Grass root organizations are the most important for long term recovery. Many smaller disasters happen within our state. Those victims receive no help unless VOAD can maintain relationships with many NGOs (non-government organizations).
I would highly encourage a representative from your organization to attend a VOAD meeting. I believe they would be impressed how Oklahoma responds to disaster on a local level. If you have any question, please feel free to respond to me via email or phone.
One of the most important reasons we do what we do and I feel I need to remind myself and other volunteers is: Remember we rebuild not only structures but give hope to victims and rebuild communities in Christian love.
Jay A. Blough
Co-Chair Oklahoma Mennonite Disaster Service
November 28, 2018
Imagine for just a moment that you are an 83 year old widow living alone in an old home that belonged to your parents. Your income is fixed at $742.00 per month and you have not been able to afford insurance on your home in years. Your medication costs now are higher than your check…..and an F2 Tornado just hit your old home.
Imagine for just a moment that you are a 36 year old single mother of four. The father of your children took off two years ago and has not been seen since. You work as a checker at Walmart and your hours just got cut…..and an F2 Tornado just hit the old mobile home that your brother gave you.
No matter what kind of disaster it is, there will always be people who do not have the means to recover from a devastating blow like this. So what happens? Who helps these disaster survivors recover?
If a mega-disaster hits, lots of money is raised quickly because of the media attention and recovery work promptly begins. In mini-disasters little money can be raised, especially in the rural areas of our state. These low-attention disasters are the toughest to recover from unless you have an organization like Recovering Oklahomans After Disaster, Inc. (disasterROAD.org)!
In 2015 an F2 tornado cut a pathway through an unincorporated rural area of Tulsa County, hitting a poverty pocket in our county…of course. It was amazing to see the disasterROAD staff, then working under the Oklahoma United Methodist Disaster Response, kick into action. They brought in volunteer teams (aka Angels with hammers!) from all over the country to get the repairs done for these disaster survivors. Limited funds were available to buy materials for these projects, so disasterROAD staff worked hard to help us get these needed resources donated. Hundreds of bales of shingles just started arriving. They were masterful at coordinating the materials needed, housing and food for the volunteers, logistics of the teams and oversight of the work completed.
There is no doubt that NO recovery would have occurred for this population had the experienced and dedicated crew of disasterROAD not been so good at what they do. It was a tremendous honor to get to work with Hal, Kevin, and Chad on behalf of the disaster survivors. I was humbled by their hearts.
Imagine for just a moment…no one to help that 83 year old widow – who didn’t even realize that she had a tree laying across the back side of her home – not until disasterROAD staff arrived.
Linda J. Johnston, Chair
Tulsa Area Long Term Recovery Committee
Director of Social Services for Tulsa County