The flooding of the Arkansas River has displaced hundreds of people, leading to an equally historic relief effort. I've seen it myself over the course of these last two weeks: resource centers piled high with cases of water and pallets of food, tables and tables of supplies. I've seen people who have lost everything themselves stepping up to help others. I've seen people running themselves ragged on trips to isolated or displaced communities just to make sure total strangers are safe.
But this is a business column, and so I feel compelled to give a shout out to all the businesses that have contributed to the cause.
I've seen local restaurants deliver food to hungry volunteers or donate buildings for shelter or relief. Local restaurateur Alex Reynolds and the Barracks donated use of the warehouse that relief center Helping Hands On Demand is using. Oktaha-based Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gear and Gun Club's Chad and Niki Neal took it upon themselves to start Helping Hands on Demand.
Bacone College's Old Warrior Gym served for a few days as the shelter for the Red Cross to help displaced flood victims. ServPro divided its operation up so it could be prepared to help people clean up and move back into their homes as quickly as possible, even while ServPro's own headquarters in Fort Gibson is underwater. Grace Episcopal Church has been housing flood victims for several days.
You can't tell me that's not a strong sense of community and charity, and I think we have it in spades.
So does Niki Neal: "It’s been such a blessing. It has been, it has been such a blessing. Our community is really what got us going first. Outside resources, we’ve had some, and that’s been great, but I would say 80 percent of what’s in the warehouse right now came from this community," Neal said. "It’s overwhelmingly heartwarming how much the people here are willing to take care of the people of Muskogee."
Everybody has pitched in to make sure that this devastation doesn't overwhelm people. Everywhere you look, businesses are holding out their hands and offering to help.
That says a lot of good things about the business community — but more than that I think it says a lot of good things about Muskogee and its surrounding towns.