When a supercell thunderstorm started toward the Oklahoma City Metro Area on the evening of May 31 more than 70 Salvation Army officers, volunteers and staff deployed in the area immediately took shelter. Many sheltered in Bethany, Okla., while others were at various hotels across the metro.
One canteen crew, just in from a long day of serving tornado survivors, took shelter in stairwell at the Baymont Hotel near the I-40 and I-44 junction, an area that the one of the five tornadoes that touched down wreaked havoc with on its way through.
When they went outside following the all-clear, cars were overturned, and the hotel, filled with families displaced by the Moore storm and multiple NCAA softball teams, was without power. A large tractor trailer was turned over blocking one exit from the service road and the other way out was filled with downed trees, requiring careful navigation to pass.
Powerful storms were still tracking south of the Metro and with no direct orders, they decided to do the most good possible. Allen Ricketson, a member of the Tulsa, Okla., canteen team had secured his mobile feeding unit at the hotel. He rushed it to the front of the building, threw open the service window, and began serving those in need. Joined by multiple members of the Emotional and Spiritual Care team—Salvation Army officers (ordained ministers) Major Ron Mott, Captain Kelly Durant, Major Connie Long, Major Susie McClure and Lieutenant Ben Duel—that Salvation Army canteen provided coffee, water, snacks—and perhaps more importantly as sense of comfort and care--to all of those who were stranded.
"Everyone was very thankful,” said Major Mott late that Friday night, “and we were blessed with the joy we could bring to others.”