Rain is not the only relief families are getting in Dewey County after a week of massive wildfires.
The Oklahoma Standard was on full display Saturday as help rolled in from across the state. Pottawatomie County ranchers are among those gathering truckload after truckload of hay.
“Okies helping Okies. That’s just the way Oklahoma is,” says organizer Mike Franetovich, who works as a truck driver.
His is just one of the many caravans of caring citizens looking to help their fellow man, and animals.
Franetovich says, “It’s all just local farmers that had it, and we got 10 bales from some people to 60 bales from one person.”
Early estimates of cattle lost in the Rhea Fire are already in the thousands, but vastly more are alive and hungry. Over the past week nearly 290,000 acres have gone up in flames, leaving scorched and barren fields behind.
Dewey County rancher Frank Meyer says, “You look at the map of it. It’s Satan, and the Bible says the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.”
Meyer is a volunteer firefighter, but on day two of the Rhea Fire, the front line arrived on his own property.
“It was a hard decision to make,” he says, “but at that point I had to come home and take care and prepare for it to be here, and it ended up here.”
Every one of his family’s ranches were hit over the course of the week, and they lost dozens of cows and calves.
Locals are grateful to the donors and truck driving volunteers who are now pouring in to help them recover.
“It’s so hard for us to accept any help, just like every rancher, because we think we can do it on our own,” Tammy Stotts told the truckers when they arrived.
Stotts is counting her blessings, after her husband Leroy barely escaped from the fire with his life. They lost cattle, horses, cats and still have yet to find one of their dogs. “There are so many that have lost so much more,” she says, “because we still have our house. We still have our barn and we still have our vehicles.”
The farmers will continue to need help in the weeks and months to come. To find a hay donation site near you, click here.
For other ways to donate to relief efforts, click here.