May 29, 2013

Fightin' Chicks join front line of Moore relief

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star

MOORE, Okla. —

Before starting their summer break from school, a group of Chickasha High School athletes and coaches decided to join the relief effort in Moore after last week's devastating twister.

The group set out Tuesday morning to help clean up debris left in the wake of an EF-5 tornado that tore through Moore last Monday. Head coach Tom Cobble, who went with the group, said his players came to him about lending a hand.

"Our team captains and team leaders came and said they wanted to do it," Cobble said. "It took me five days or so to get in contact with the right people. It's not one of those things you can just show up and do."

Hunter Ford, who will be a senior in Cobble's football team this fall, said the busload of players was in a relaxed and excited mood on the way to Moore, but their mood changed upon arriving at the disaster site.

"The second that we got to Moore, the bus was silent," Ford said. "Everyone was in awe and in shock of what this thing could do. We went straight down the path of where it hit. We cleaned up a field, and the City of Moore had decided they were going to build a park there. It was covered in debris, because there was a neighborhood right across the street. When you looked over there, it was just flat; there was nothing left."

The area that the group cleaned up was two blocks west of the Warren movie theater, around which the large tornado caused extensive damage to schools, homes and a hospital.

"The day it happened, some of the juniors and some other players all got together and talked about what we could do to help," Ford said. "Every player I talked to about it said they would be willing to go help. I prayed about it and went to coach [Cobble] to see if that was something we could do."

Cobble said he went to and got in touch with other volunteers. The group made their way to an area church that was being used as a relief center, where work tools, water and food were readily available for volunteers.

"The amount of donations was incredible," Ford said. "All you had to do was show up. I saw a license plate from Indiana, there were college kids there; there's folks pouring in from everywhere."

Cobble said seeing his players give up part of their summer to aid fellow Oklahomans made him feel good as a coach. 

"I was very proud of them," Cobble said. "I wouldn't be surprised if some of them wanted to come back tomorrow."