Oklahoma Scouts and Scouters ready to assist after tornadoes

Some rights reserved by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Some rights reserved by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Updated 1:03 p.m. May 14 with info on need for volunteers at May 21 event. See bottom of post.

Eldon Fossey, Scoutmaster of Troop 75 in Moore, Okla., was at work when the deadly tornadoes passed through yesterday, killing at least 24 and leaving horrific damage.

As soon as they got the all-clear, Eldon’s boss told everyone to leave. It took Eldon two hours to make the seven-mile drive home.

Thankfully, his house was three-quarters of a mile north of the tornado’s path. Other people in his life weren’t so lucky. A Scout in Eldon’s troop and Eldon’s brother-in-law had their houses completely leveled. When I talked to Eldon, he was on his way to his mother-in-law’s house, which was still standing but no longer structurally sound.

Understandably, Eldon had little to report as he focuses on helping his immediate family. But, thankfully, he didn’t know of any deaths in his 50-member troop. 

“I have put the word out to our troop and let everyone know where we stand,” he said. “I told my troop that as soon as cops allow them back into the neighborhood, I told them to do as much as they can to help. Once we’re able, we need to help.”

That same message was echoed by Jeff Woolsey, Scout Executive of the Oklahoma City-based Last Frontier Council. He called me right as he was about to step into a meeting to discuss what the council can do to help.

Right now, they’re in the information-gathering stage.

“We’re very concerned and trying to get as much communication as we can,” he said. “We’re all praying for them, becase the magnitude of this disaster is huge.”

But Woolsey knows the resolve of his community — and his state — is strong.

“Oklahomans have been through this many times, and they know the drill,” he said. “So we’ll be organizing very quickly.”

Woolsey and his council have contacted United Way and other partner agencies that respond to these kinds of crises to tell them, “We’re standing by. We’re ready,” he said, “as we have been with disasters in the past to mobilize Scouts and moms and dads to help where we can.”

At this early stage, Woolsey said, the key is to stay out of the way and let first responders do their jobs. In the meantime, Woolsey has a point person, a key volunteer, in charge of relief efforts. When it’s safe to do so, that point person will lead the Scouts and Scouters into action.

But what about people who aren’t able to drive to the disaster site to help? Woolsey suggests they give to the groups that are already helping people.

“Folks outside of the area can help best by giving to American Red Cross and to the Salvation Army — the local ones here if they can,” he said. “Those are the agencies that are right now on the ground helping. And they do a very good job very quickly.”

“And of course we appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers,” he said.

I’ll keep you updated on this developing story as I learn new details.

Volunteers needed May 21

Update | 1:03 p.m., May 14

Just received word from the Last Frontier Council that they’re looking for volunteers to help move supplies and equipment in the afternoon on Tuesday, May 21. Here are the details:

Troop 180 & St. Andrews United Methodist Church
American Red Cross Shelter
2727 SW 119th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73170

Volunteers are needed to unload and move supplies and equipment. A large trailer from AutoZone will be delivering supplies in the afternoon of May 21.

All sorts of useful items may be donated: food, bottled water, clothing and toiletries are needed. Scouting volunteers are encouraged to wear the BSA uniform or a BSA shirt.

Main photo from Flickr: Some rights reserved by The National Guard

23 thoughts on “Oklahoma Scouts and Scouters ready to assist after tornadoes

  1. Bryan;
    I took my Scouts to help out with a 1000 other Scouts after the Joplin, MO tornado. Please let me know if we can help out in OK also. My Scouts are ready. Thanks. SM Troop 41, Junction City, KS.

    • Our troop out of Wichita went and helped there too and we have Scouts asking what we can do to help out. So we will be ready to go also. Thanks ASM Troop 614 Wichita, Ks.

  2. Definitely praying and thanks for the information for the Salvation Army and Red Cross. Shelterbox is also on stand by as well.

  3. The boys scouts and cubs are wonderful boys…. My son is a webelos and when our town got 12-14ft of water and was evacuated they where there to help out the best they could… Thank you for being so helpful in many ways.

  4. My son is a scout in Blanchard, and we are ready to help! We have friends and family who have lost everything, but are willing and able to help anywhere we are needed….just keep us posted please!!!

  5. Know that brazilian scouts are praying and hoping that things will be all right for our scouts brothers and all the population of Oaklahoma. God bless you all.
    Heraclio Arcoverde – Scouter, 13 G.E, Brasilia, Brazil

  6. Reblogged this on Just Scouting and commented:
    Yesterday was a very surreal day in Oklahoma City. It is the third time in 14 years that I sat and watched Mother Nature rip through the city of Moore and the second time it was something I couldn’t believe I was actually watching. My heart goes out to those affected with such great loss and for some the ultimate loss of life.

    Please pray for the people of Moore and the surrounding area as they try to put their lives together yet one more time.

    I know there are Scouts and Scouters in the Last Frontier Council and all over the country poised and ready to help and soon you will see the Boy Scouts of America out setting the example.

  7. Scouts in Newcastle – Under -Lyme Staffordshire England , are praying for everyone hurt in Oklahoma , is there anything we can do to help ?

  8. Council Executive Jeff Wolsey is right. Scouts need to help where we can but we must always do so in a constructive manner, and not get in the way of the experts. In addition to my Scout ADC work, I’ve also served with the Red Cross and the American Radio Relay League at about 12 disasters.

    That also means not collecting “stuff” unless specifically asked by those in authority on scene, in writing.

    Remember, donating cash and blood is always better than sending “stuff”, especially with Tornadoes, as intact infrastructure is usually only a few miles away on each side.

    See the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (which includes all the major organizations such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, ARRL, etc. ) website at http://nvoad.org/tornadoes for ways to help without getting in the way or adding to the problem with piles of loose, unsolicited “stuff”.

    I’ve also thought that BSA might consider getting involved with NVOAD at a National level to better coordinate the efforts of Scouts in future disasters.

  9. Pack 72 out of Zephyrhills, Florida is ready to help in anyway that we can.

    Thanks and may God bless everyone affected!

  10. I’m sure many Scouts and Scouters have lost everything. Many units in the path of Sandy lost all their camping gear, pine wood derby tracks, uniforms, and training materials. I’m sending my extra good condition uniforms to Troop 180 St. Andrews United Methodist Church. American Red Cross Shelter, Oklahoma City, unless advised not to.

    • Your heart is in the right place, but I suggest you hold off actually mailing it until the Scout Executive in the affected Council gives everyone the go ahead. Unsolicited donations of loose goods are often referred to as “the disaster within the disaster” as they distract rescue workers from other tasks.

  11. Tragedies like this seem to bring out the best in others. Kudos to those stepping up to help. At the same time, use this as a teachable moment to improve emergency preparedness within your unit, among their families, and in your community. There are many tools available to make it easy… Visit http://www.ready.gov for personal and family readiness planning resources. Check out FEMA’s Citizen Corps– and find your local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which provides free training and other resources to help others be prepared…. Training with no obligation–but also opportunities to volunteer, for those who are interested. Earn the BSA Emergency Preparedness Award along the way… as an individual, or better still–as a unit! EVERY UNIT CAN HELP… Even those that can’t be on-site in Oklahoma can work to ensure they, their family, and their community are READY, whether its a tornado, a mishap like the fire and explosion in West, TX, or a criminal act like the Boston Marathon bombing. BE PREPARED!

  12. My boy scout troop 101 in Lowell Indiana would like to help if there is anything we can do let us know. We want to start collecting donations monetary of course to help out but need to know where to send it to your troops. Our prayers and thoughts go out to you and the rest of the families in Oklahoma.

  13. AS a long time scout/scouter, I am always give me a ‘boost’ to see scouts in action. Doing partly what we have been taught to do. As a volunteer search & rescue member, it’s also important to know what to expect what one might encounter when searching through the debris, it could be shocking. From the looks of the devastation that I see on the news, I’d say the most these families need, other than food, is “clothing”. I beleive I speak for the scouts and scouters from the WLACC council, in California, that we send our prayers and hopes for a speedy recocery, and keep up the good spirits Scouts.

    Hopefully will get the word from the BSA as what or what not to do. Having the Scout uniform is a tool in a disaster relief effort. Its going to be 24/7. First responders will need all kinds of help. A good project for the OA.

  15. What can international scouts do to help? with the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand 2 years ago, scouts had a campaign going for other scouts around the world to sponsor blankets that we were donating to the evacuation centres and the EMTs to give to patients. do you have a similar programme, or could you get one going?

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