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Hundreds of homes are damaged in OK

BY GEORGE PIPER | Harrah, OK | September 23, 1998

The Rev. Dan Campbell of the First Baptist Church in Harrah heard the news reports but didn't know

how bad the damage was until he surveyed it firsthand on Tuesday.

"It's worse than I thought," he said in an interview Wednesday. "You walk through an area and there

are piles of rubbish a foot-and-a-half high where there used to be a trailer."

At least eight residences -- seven of them mobile homes -- were destroyed and at least 65 sustained

damage around Harrah, a town of about 10,000 people located 20 miles east of Oklahoma City. A

2-year-old boy died in one of the mobile homes.

In adjacent Logan County, destruction is similar: eight homes and business destroyed, 45 structures

with major damage and another 220 with substantial damage, said John Lewis the county's Civil

Defense director. No deaths or major injuries were reported in that county, but Lewis said the Red

Cross is sheltering some people.

Storms provided a mixed blessing for Oklahoma residents who suffered through a long dry spell. Rain

totals ranged from two to four inches across the area.

Weather officials attribute the wind damage to microbursts, caused by collapsing thunderstorms. Wind

speeds reached 80 mph, knocking down trees and power lines and leaving some 23,000 people without


Campbell, New Walla First Baptist Church Pastor Griff Henderson and Sam Porter, men's ministries

specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, toured storm-damaged areas Wednesday to

determine what aid the organization can give. The state group's disaster relief arm give financial help up

to $500 to families and serves food and in disaster relief situations, said Porter.

The local pastors will assess needs and report back to the state office, added Porter. The offers are

need-based, meaning recipients don't have to belong to the churches distributing the aid.

In Harrah, Campbell's church teamed with Red Cross officials to serve as a command post and shelter.

Officials stayed at the church until 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, but no persons requested overnight housing.

Some of the church's 700 members assisted by feeding relief workers and residents left homeless.

Others are donating money or supplies for survivors. The American Red Cross is on site, Campbell

added, administering first aid and offering counseling and financial assistance.

One family needed a tree moved from a driveway so they could load up any salvageable possession

from their destroyed mobile home, said Campbell. So the church paid for them to rent a moving van

and sent volunteers to remove the tree.

"The ladies from the church have been going door-to-door with sandwiches, giving food to people who

are cleaning up and trying to salvage what they can," said Campbell, who lives only a mile from the

heaviest destruction.

"We consider it a privilege to serve the Lord by meeting the needs of the people," he said. "It's a great

time for church to rally to the needs of humanity and show the love of God."

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