Fresh landscaping and a clear-blue, Oklahoma sky, sandwich a brand new brick home adjacent to the recently rebuilt Plaza Towers Elementary School where an EF-5 tornado leveled everything about 14 months prior.
Family, friends, city officials, media, a local pastor and leaders of Convoy of Hope’s local disaster relief partners begin to arrive and line the residential road. Looking around, there are some empty lots, but mostly homes in various stages of completion. A welcomed breeze brings relief from a late July day just as homeowner Jamie Baker arrives with her 15-year-old daughter, Kaylee. The two are dressed to celebrate and prepared to don an over-sized pair of scissors to cut the ribbon on their new home in front of everyone, including the Mayor of Moore.
Jamie and Kaylee’s home is the first build that Convoy of Hope — or anyone has completed using donated funds — in the City of Moore since an EF-5 tornado destroyed an estimated 1,150 homes. In partnership with groups like Catholic Charities, Lifechurch.TV, American Red Cross and The Salvation Army, we have six homes in various stages of completion and we have helped seven families into brand new modular homes.
Stories of the family home that had set on the property for generations are told by friends and family as local media crews ready their cameras to capture a perfect moment for the evening news. Each speaker has a similar message for Jamie, Kaylee and the City of Moore. Catholic Charities put it best, “We are celebrating today knowing that there will be more days like this.” This community has experienced terrible disaster, but now has the opportunity to see recovery and hope.
A sweet expression of relief and sheer joy overcome Jamie’s face as she cuts a big red bow and heads for the door, key in hand. She stops before she gets to the doorway and turns toward our team, local partners and leadership of her city to say, “It’s been an emotional roller coaster for us … we’re just grateful,” she says through tears, “We feel so blessed, so thank you, thank you everyone for coming and welcome to our new home.”
With that, Jamie and her daughter Kaylee put their backs to an empty lot across the street, turn a shiny brass key and open the door to a bright, brand new future. Just inside the doorway, Jamie looks toward the gathered crowd and proudly waves her arm to say, “Come on in.”