Relief workers apply lessons from Joplin, in tornado-ravaged Moore, Okla.

May 30, 2013

Credit Jennifer Davidson / KSMU

If you’re in the Ozarks, it’s hard not to compare the images and stories out of Moore, Oklahoma to those from the May, 2011 Joplin tornado that killed 161 people.  Jeff Nene, the spokesman for Convoy of Hope, says the similarities are distinct from a relief perspective, too, including a wide path of destruction through residential areas.

“We learned in Joplin the value of mobile distribution,” Nene said.

Mobile distribution is just like it sounds:  taking food, supplies, and services out to remote sites.

And relief workers from the Springfield-based Convoy of Hope are are doing that, and sifting through metal, plastic, and wood in tornado ravaged Moore, Oklahoma.  Many of those staff members are applying lessons they learned two years ago in Joplin.

“People who lost homes in most cases lost cars as well.   And it was kind of inconvenient for them at the time. They wanted to be there and stay with their stuff and not leave. So what we’re able to do with these mobile distributions is go into the neighborhoods and pass out food and cleaning supplies,” Nene said.

And that’s exactly what Convoy is doing now in Moore.

“I think another lesson we learned in Joplin was the value of working together with the city, [and] with the emergency responders from that area—and trying to help complement each other instead of fighting over who’s going to do what, or getting into situations where one neighborhood might have four or five different organizations working in it, and other neighborhoods are completely neglected,” Nene said.

Many neighborhoods are just now opening up to relief organizations.  Nene said Convoy of Hope staff members are trying to time things so that they’re among the first ones there when residents need help removing debris.

Convoy of Hope is not taking on additional volunteers at this time, due to the overwhelming response it received.