When the fires broke, Gov Fallin was at the Republican Governor's Association Meeting and the next thing we know she is back in the state touring the areas that were hard hit by these forest fires. She didn't stand around having all these news conferences like we have seem out of some Governors. She went to meet with the people who had been affected by the fires and the first responders who were in the front lines fighting these fires. It could have been much worse but they had the helicopters up in the air dumping water on the fires very quickly. This was the perfect example of everyone working together to put out these fires and save towns in the process.
The stories of heroism are coming from all over. One young man in the southeastern part of my County helped get his grandparents out of their home and then jumped on his grandfather's tractor with a grader in front to make a huge circle of dirt around the homestead to stop the fire. It worked. At temps over 110, his grandfather would never have been able to stand the heat to clear off the land. What a wonderful gift this young man gave his grandparents. They have to be very proud of him. He also saved his Aunt's home.
On Friday the call went out that they needed ice chests and ice for the water bottles for the first responders and within a couple of hours, the word went out that they had more than enough. We have heard and read story after story of Oklahomans helping their neighbors which makes me proud to be from Oklahoma.
The first responders are the lifeblood of our communities who protect us on a daily basis. Anyone who says we don't need any more first responders doesn't have a clue what they are talking about. These responders were working in temps over 110 degrees as those are the days we were breaking or tying the heat records from the Dust Bowl years. We broke one record going to back to the 1890's before we became a state. We also broke records for being the highest low temperatures. These first responders kept working through the heat to save communities and homes. Oklahomans owe them a debt of gratitude.
I just texted to the American Red Cross my $10 donation. The Red Cross here does an amazing job with the number of disasters I have seen them involved. They have teams available to help in other states as well at a moment's notice. Very efficient and bring a lot of help in a time of need.
Oklahomans are very fortunate with this wildfire crises to have a Governor like Mary Fallin who puts Oklahoma and its people first as her and her team got the necessary resources into the locations in order to contain these fires. Wish she was running for President because then I would have someone I would support 100%!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEAugust 7, 2012
Editor’s note: This is one of a regular series of monthly columns titled “Oklahoma Now” by Governor Mary Fallin.
Governor Mary Fallin’s “Oklahoma Now” ColumnHeadline: “During Wildfire Crisis, ‘Oklahoma Standard’ Emerges Once Again”
By Governor Mary Fallin
The month of August started like the month of July ended: hot, dry and windy. In other words, the conditions were perfect for wildfires.
Difficult summers, however, are something we’re used to. In response to the weather and in anticipation of wildfires, I placed all 77 counties under a State of Emergency due to drought. When dozens of fires broke out across the state, Oklahomans were prepared.
Because of the statewide emergency declaration, state and local governments were able to make emergency purchases and immediately begin protecting their communities. And although they couldn’t stop the fires that spread across the state– especially those that may have been started maliciously and intentionally – the statewide governor’s burn ban protected us from a scenario that could have been even worse.
As always, Oklahoma’s first responders proved and continue to prove why they are considered on par with the best in the country and the world. Firefighters worked relentlessly through the weekend – many with little or no sleep – protecting our communities, saving homes and saving lives. Many are still going.
In the town of Drumright, which was threatened by the massive Creek County fire that burned over 58,000 acres, exhausted first responders told me how they had joined with other local fire departments to halt the blaze and save their community. Sure enough, while the grasslands and forest around the town were scorched black and the surrounding area had lost several houses, the town itself was untouched. Drumright residents rallied to support their heroes: the fire department and city hall were stocked to near-bursting from ice, water, Gatorade and snacks donated by local families.
For those who did lose their homes to wildfires, help is coming. My office is working with groups like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, as well as Insurance Commissioner John Doak, to help those individuals and communities get back on their feet as quickly as possible. Additionally, as the state moves from response to recovery operations, I expect to be able to request a Disaster Declaration from the federal government, and to hopefully receive federal assistance for individuals and families affected by the fires.
As heartbreaking as it is to see so much destruction, it is inspiring to see how Oklahomans band together in a time of crisis – neighbor helping neighbor, and community helping community. The response and recovery effort has truly been statewide, with help coming from the National Guard, state first responders, emergency volunteers, and thousands of men, women and children who are collecting and donating resources to support firefighters or neighbors in distress. It is yet another demonstration of the “Oklahoma Standard” of community and selflessness for which we have become known for.
Moving forward, we have a lot of work to do. There are many people who still need help. Fortunately, this is Oklahoma, and there are many who are willing to provide that help. In the last few days, we’ve had countless people contact our office to ask how. Below you will find contact information and instructions for donating resources to some of the most effective and engaged organizations in the state.
My sincere thanks go out to the tens of thousands of Oklahomans who have worked to fight wildfires, support recovery efforts or simply comfort their neighbors.
Online: Go to www.redcross.org and click the “make a donation” buttonMobile Phone: Text “Red Cross” to 90999 to make a $10 donationMail Donations To:
601 NE 6th Street Oklahoma City, OK 73104
Online: Go to www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.orgPhone: Call 1-800-SAL-ARMY
Mail Donations To:
The Salvation Army
Attn: Oklahoma Wildfires PO Box 12600
Oklahoma City, OK 73157
Baptist General Convention of OklahomaOnline: Go to http://bgco.org/wildfireresponsePhone: 1-800-690-6933Mail Donations To:
Attn: Oklahoma Wildfire Relief,
3800 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73112.