March 31, 2017
On March 6, wildfires swept through an estimated 1.5 million acres in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado. Thousands of cattle were lost, and homes were destroyed. On Tues Mar 28, at the request of the 2017 Panhandle Relief Facebook group (a group organizing relief convoys via Facebook), Humanity Road activated Operation Pitchfork.
The pictures of devastated farmland, livestock, and animals injured or killed in the fires still tug at our heartstrings. An outpouring of aid has emerged from across the country. Convoys of trucks are loaded with much-needed hay, animal feed, fencing, and farm supplies. Support is coming from the extension offices, transportation industry, the agricultural industry, friends and family, and in some areas from local police who are providing escorts for the convoys.
“As devastating and heart wrenching as the aftermath of the fires is, the REAL story is the response. A response not just of farmers helping farmers. This is a story of THOUSANDS of ordinary Americans helping their fellow man in a time of need. A story of people who are not farmers or ranchers, but computer programmers, doctors, lawyers, preachers, teachers, truck drivers, housewives, school kids, all kinds of seemingly unrelated occupations. This is a story of millennials, gen-xers, and baby boomers coming together. Folks from Smallville and from Metropolis.” shares Tommy Roach, a member of the 2017 Panhandle Fire Relief group. This Facebook group of over 2,400 members has become a working group to help reduce donation management issues by sharing donation drop points, critical up-to-date road and transportation announcements, and helping to coordinate convoys.
This is a true whole community approach. “When done effectively, digital volunteer systems help local populations by fostering a neighbor-helping-neighbor system, reducing demands on local emergency services, providing a portal to help guide the public to solutions, and helping to speed the recovery process – all with just a click of a mouse,” shares Cat Graham, Chief Operations officer with Humanity Road. “It’s how we were founded, and we support the communities who step up to take on that responsibility.”
The 2017 Panhandle Fire Relief group is headquartered in Amarillo, Texas and is assisting the extension offices in several states. “We have activated to support their work, their request was simple. Help us keep those trucks moving. We need fuel.”
In the end, it’s neighbor helping neighbor and sometimes that neighbor is right next door, or 1,000 miles away. We are honored to provide support.