Of the more than 93,000 acres destroyed in Oklahoma wildfires, nearly 60,000 acres were in Creek County. According to the Department of Agriculture Forestry Services it is one of the largest fires in the history of the state. Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman represents Creek County in the State Senate, while Rep. Skye McNiel represents the area in the House.
“It is devastating. We canvassed the area Monday and talked to people who’ve lost everything--some have insurance, others don’t. They had so little time to evacuate—in some cases, just enough to let their horses and cattle free. Some people are staying on their property even though their houses are gone, just trying to take care of their animals,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “I went through the area with other volunteers to bring people water, food—whatever we could do to help.”
McNiel and two of her daughters, ages six and nine, went door to door with Bingman handing out water. She described the scene as heartbreaking.
“There was one family who lost their home in the fire, and they had four little girls, all under the age of five. I can’t even imagine trying to keep it together and care for your children after going through something like that,” said McNiel, R-Bristow. “But the spirit of the people here is amazing. Time after time we spoke with people who lost everything, but were saying at least they saved their pets or just giving thanks that they were all okay—they were looking at the positives and more worried about how their neighbors were doing.”
Bingman said citizens from Mannford and surrounding communities have been bringing in water, ice and perishables to help those impacted by the fires. He said many who didn’t lose their homes had no electricity or water, so it was an extremely difficult situation for them as well.
Bingman described the area as a war zone and said it was hard to fully comprehend the scope of the disaster without being on the scene. The senator said during a fly-over of the area Monday night hot-spots were still clearly visible. He praised the rural firefighters who battled the flames for the past several days.
“These are volunteer firefighters working for days without sleep, risking their own lives in a very, very dangerous situation. They deserve our thanks along with the other first-responders and volunteers who’ve been on the scene,” Bingman said. “We also want to thank everyone who has donated water, food and funds to help the victims.”
McNiel also pointed to the tireless efforts of linemen working to restore power to area citizens.
“The heat and the conditions are very challenging, but they’ve been doing their best to get electricity restored, and that is so important in this heat,” McNiel said. “In addition to all the firefighters, emergency responders and volunteers, the linemen deserve thanks as well.”
In addition to addressing the needs of people impacted by the fires, Mannford City Manager Mike Nunneley said city and county officials were coordinating efforts to help with the horses and cattle that had been left without food or water and working to locate fencing and address other needs.
Red Cross officials on Tuesday announced their new shelter location for Mannford would be the First United Methodist Church at 100 East Greenwood Avenue. Anyone wishing to contribute to the relief effort is asked to go to their official website at www.redcross.org.
“Our hearts go out to all Oklahomans impacted by these fires. But there are two things we can say for certain about this state; our citizens are known world-wide for their compassion for their neighbors and their willingness to help one another, and the depth of that compassion is equaled by our resiliency,” Bingman said.