Impact of Oklahoma tornado devastation felt in Valley

May 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Valley Red Cross volunteers are waiting to find out how they can help the victims of Monday's tornadoes in Oklahoma.

Local volunteers and officials are being told they have to wait a few days because only first responders are being allowed in to help.

Aside from clothes, Debby Dailey carries paperwork, a medical bag and her knowledge.

This retired firefighter and nurse has lived through nearly every major disaster to hit the United States since she was 18.

"This is what I've done all my life, I'm just glad I'm able to give back at this point in my life," Dailey said.

Once the tornadoes hit, Debby's cell phone started ringing. She's packed and ready - the call could come at any minute.

"You get to help them at a time in their life that they're the most vulnerable and it could be the scariest time for them, and if you can see them over that hump you know you've made a major difference in their life and that's what keeps me going," Dailey said.

Back in Oklahoma a man with Valley ties is already making a difference in this disaster. Pastor Rony Renfrow's church was spared - a church that he's now turned into a shelter.

"When the tornado hit you can hear it, it sounds like a jet engine coming through," Renfrow told Action News.

He worked to cover children as they ran from the wind and hail. He and other volunteers are now going into neighborhoods, doing what they can to help.

"We're sending out more and more vans to go pick up, we just got clearance from the fire chief who is letting only our vans go through checkpoints to find families who need a home," Renfrow said.

And he says as more storms are coming, he and his church are staying true to their mission - one of positivity.

The Red Cross has told local volunteers like Debby to be ready to go within the next 48 hours - as soon as the weather clears.

Valley baseball fans are also remembering the men, women and children who lost their lives in the tornado. Members of the visiting team playing the Fresno Grizzlies on Monday night - the Oklahoma City Redhawks - were directly impacted by that tornado.

Action News spoke with a coach who says even though he was pushing his team hard tonight his thoughts were with his grandparents back home.

With heads bowed and hearts heavy, they thought of loved ones struggling in back home.

"I have lots and lots of family in that area of town and they are all absolutely in my thoughts and prayers tonight," strength conditioning coach Alex Pounds said.

Despite his worry, Pounds focused on Monday's game. But he also thought of his family who weren't far from the tornado's path.

"It was a couple of miles away from my grandparents house. They were in the bathroom holding on for dear life. It actually just missed them barely," Pounds said.

He's grateful they're okay.

But radio announcer Alex Freedman says the images of flattened houses and smoke rising over rubble wasn't been easy for players.

"I've been glued to the TV ever since. I know the guys have been watching at the clubhouse a little bit," Redhawks player Alex Freedman said.

Now the entire team is finding comfort in knowing people in the area found safety inside their home stadium.

"A lot of them have their wives and families back there. But those who were still there got to go to our stadium which is a very safe place to be,"

The team plans to help in the relief efforts but they will be on the road for about a week so they're now working on a plan to figure out how they can help.

Load Comments