Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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The Oklahoma Response

The Murrah Building is demolished more than a ...

Have you heard of the Oklahoma Response?

I don’t know if it’s real or if the woman who gave it a name for me (a wannabe romance writer who threw in the towel after a year or two) made it up. *Note: I just googled The Oklahoma Response, and found nothing, so I’m figuring it was the afore-mentioned woman’s best job of fiction writing.

Whether anyone actually calls it that or not, I’ve seen it happen.

This woman said she’d been a news person in OKC, and was close enough to get to the Murrah Building bombing sight before a perimeter was set up. Because she was there first, she’d been allowed to stay, but couldn’t leave or she wouldn’t be able to get back in. So she spent days without much sleep or a change of clothes, giving updates to TV stations all over the US.

Then she asked where I was when it happened. (Someone must have told her at some point that a conversation means talk and listen.)

So I told her I was driving to work when I heard about the bombing over the radio. My first response? I’ve got to go help!

I hit the gas and headed for OKC. It only took a couple of seconds for me to remember I would be a hindrance, not a help. I’m not a nurse–I don’t even have first aid training, so I wouldn’t be any help that way. I’m not a power lifter, so I wouldn’t be much help lifting buildings off victims.

And I am a huge crier. I have a strict policy that no one cries alone in my presence. *Know that movie?* I don’t mind crying solo, either. 😉

The woman said, “That’s being called ‘The Oklahoma Response’.” She went on to compare it to an earlier bombing. She said in both cases, when the bombs went off, people ran. In the first, they ran to safety and just kept going, grateful they weren’t hurt.

In Oklahoma, people ran toward the bombing to see if they could help. When no one else could help, people lined up around the block to give blood, donate money, take in home cooked meals. Anything to be a help.

Since hearing about the Okie Response, I’ve seen it proven over and over. When someone is in need, there’s an Okie (or a thousand) who’ll step up to help.

The past couple of weeks here in Northeast Oklahoma, we’ve had horrible wildfires. So many people have lost their homes, it’s appalling. No matter how hard firefighters (professional and volunteer) battled in the 110+ air temperatures made even hotter by the hell from the fires not to menton the protective gear they had to wear, somewhere between two and three hundred homes burned to the ground.

Larry Lawrence Picture

Everything the fire devil got close enough to burned–from expensive homes to ready-to-fall-down shacks, B & Bs and church camps, barns and auction halls. And I don’t know a soul who wouldn’t have stepped up to lend a hand if needed.

Larry Lawrence Picture

But most of us aren’t trained firefighters, and would only get in the way. So we step up in another way. When the call went out for water and/or Gatorade for the firemen, we donated.

As the size of the loss was realized, churches set up outreaches. One of the churches in The Ford, on an unscorched corner that was missed although the fire burned all around, set up tents and opened their doors for donations.

And the Oklahoma Response? So many clothes came in that an announcement had to be made–“No more clothes! We have no more room.”

   My cousin’s daughter, Mendy, who belongs to this church, took these pictures. It looks like a party, doesn’t it? Rather than hoarding the remaining clothes and keeping them for someone who might need them in the future, she tells me they’re sharing with a church in T-Town that helps the homeless.

So what is The Oklahoma Response?

We care.