Even as floodwaters and electrical outages hit their homes, Fort Gibson residents stepped in to help others.
“We even have people here at the resource center who have lost everything that are here volunteering at the resource center,” said Haley Norman, coordinator of the town’s Emergency Resource Center.
The resource center, located at the old gym at Fort Gibson High School, is accepting donations to help people affected by the flooding.
Norman said people have worked to ensure people in Braggs and Okay, as well as those in Fort Gibson, have food and supplies. She said truckloads and boatloads of supplies have been sent to isolated communities. She said the center is supplying the communities with nonperishable foods, water, paper products and baby goods.
“We have a list for volunteers willing to sign to help now and in the future for clean up,” she said. “We also are taking a list of people who are in need, or are going to be in need of clean-up.”
Center operators also are preparing for the massive clean-ups ahead. Norman said on Monday that water has not come into the downtown area.
“There are different parts of town that are under,” she said. “Our sewer plant has been under for several days.”
Norman said more than 100 people filled sandbags a couple of days ago “and stacked them to save our water plant.”
“It was incredible,” Norman said.
Fort Gibson Mayor Michael Sharpe said the water plant is safe.
About 12 people have come to an American Red Cross shelter at Fort Gibson’s First Baptist Church, shelter manager Tommy Byerly said on Monday afternoon.
“We’ve had a few come in and be able to go back home -- we had some come in because they did not have power, and they had power restored,” Byerly said. “We’ve had a few come in, and they found other places to go with friends and family.”
Some were Fort Gibson residents, others were flown in from Braggs.
“We are providing meals, we have water, snacks, coffee,” Byerly said. “We have comfort kits with hygiene products. We have cots. We have movies and games set up.”
Byerly said the shelter will remain as long as needed.
“I know they’re calling for another (storm) system Tuesday and Wednesday,” he said. “I’m thinking we’ll probably have more (people).”
Frank Gladd American Legion Post 20 has been serving hot meals to first responders, displaced residents and volunteers, Post Commander Tim Smith said.
“We probably served about 4,000 to 5,000 meals since Thursday morning,” Smith said on Monday afternoon. “The building is currently open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for people to get nourishment or beverages.”
The American Legion also is setting up a center so affected veterans can get grants or financial assistance, Smith said.
“In the very near future, we’re going to have a location here in town to help people with other forms of grants and aids,” he said.
Sharpe said Norman has done a fantastic job getting supplies out.
“Everybody’s working together here in town, volunteerism here is fantastic,” Sharpe said. “This town has really come together. People have worked hard, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work to go.”
He said the town officials plan to meet on Thursday with representatives from several churches to coordinate continued relief efforts.