May 22, 2013 - Oxford Village residents Kim Collier and Tiffany Butler aren't content to simply sit back and watch the television news in the aftermath of the devastating tornado that blasted the Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday, May 20.
The two former Oklahoma residents, who now live in the Oxford Lakes subdivision, are conducting a fund-raiser for the American Red Cross on Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25.
"We just wanted to do something to help and there's not a lot you can do from this far away," said Collier, who was born and raised in Oklahoma City proper. "We figured this would be the best way to help."
The fund-raiser will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days and take place at 203 Oxford Lake Drive. It will include a bake sale (featuring cookies, cakes, brownies, etc.) and a returnable bottle/can drive. Cash donations will also be accepted.
"That's my home. It's very, very close to my heart," said Butler, who was born and raised in Yukon, a suburb right outside Oklahoma City.
The tornado measured between half-a-mile and two miles wide and had winds of at least 200 miles per hour, according to media accounts. The National Weather Service (NWS) indicated the tornado was an EF-5 on the enhanced Fujita scale (which measures tornado strength), the most powerful type of twister. The NWS had preliminarily classified it as an EF-4, but they upgraded the twister on Tuesday.
The tornado leveled entire neighborhoods and destroyed schools as it carved a path of death and destruction, according to media accounts. Originally, it was reported that 51 people were killed by the tornado, but the Oaklahoma City medical examiner revised the death toll to 24, including nine children.
"I just can't even believe it," Collier said. "I've never seen anything like that. I grew up there, so I'm used to all that – used to hiding in the bathtub (when a tornado is coming). But I've never seen anything like this."
"It was devastating. I'm very, very, very sad," said Butler, who noted that her parent's best friends, who live in Moore, Okla., the suburb hardest-hit by the tornado, have now lost their second home to a twister.
The first one was leveled back in 1999.
Butler hopes the Red Cross will use some of this money she and Collier plan to raise to build tornado shelters for Oklahoma schools.
"That's one of the things that the Red Cross is looking into," she said.
Collier, who moved to Oxford in 2006, lived in Oklahoma City until she was about 25 years old.
"My whole family's still there," she said.
Fortunately, the tornado missed them.
"They're all fine," Collier said. "They actually live on the north side of town and this happened on the south side of town."
Collier noted she does have a nephew who lives in Moore, "but he was able to get out."
"He doesn't know anything about his house yet," she said.
As for Butler, even though her entire family still lives in Yukon, they were actually in Oxford for the graduation of her sons, Ashton Butler and Zachary Hinman, from Oxford High School.
Even though she hasn't lived in Oklahoma for 10 years, Butler said it's still important for her to do whatever she can to help others in the wake of this natural disaster.
"Oklahoma is a lot different than Michigan – it's very close-knit," she said. "Everybody supports everybody."
"I love Michigan, but (Oklahoma) is what every state should model themselves after," Butler noted. "They help each other. We need to get back to that (idea)."
Butler indicated her goal for the fund-raiser is to surpass the $2,600 her family raised with a bake sale/bottle-and-can-drive to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"I would like to exceed that," she said.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.