Many Pawnee County Families Still Struggling After Fires

Friday, August 26th 2011, 6:23 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TERLTON, Oklahoma -- Relief efforts are shifting focus in southeast Pawnee County -- where wildfires destroyed almost fifty homes.

08/07/2011 Related Story: At Least A Dozen Homes, Structures Destroyed In Pawnee County Wildfire

Families were forced to look for other shelter -- and donation drives focused on clothing and furniture.

But monetary donations would go further for one family.

Kenneth and Lanece Steward lost their home and much of their property in the fire. Now they're living the only way they can… In a tent.

They've been living in a tent for nearly three weeks since a brush blaze butchered their mobile home.

"All I felt was anger about my home being lost and I mean there are things I can't replace and all of our vehicles were destroyed," Lanece Steward said.

The Stewards had only lived in Terlton for two months. They lost several pets in the fire, an urn holding the ashes of Lanece's mother and precious pictures of their children.

"Our motto is we take one day at a time," Lanece said

Almost everything they have was donated, even the clothes they are wearing. Their three kids sleep in a donated travel trailer.

"Overwhelmed, I couldn't believe that so many nice people could be here," Lanece said.

But that trailer must be returned soon. That's where Melinda Miller comes in. She created the Terlton Relief Program to help families displaced by the wildfire.

"seeing all of that destruction and seeing where homes used to be, but nothing was there anymore, it just said to me, ‘you were spared and now you can do something to help,'" Miller said.

Miller takes public donations and delivers them to fire victims. She's discovered that money donations for shelter, repairs and rebuilding are the biggest need.

"The feeling that you see in people's eyes when you give them an ounce of hope is like somebody just gave them the biggest hug," Miller said.

The Stewards have felt that hug and hope for several more.

"We want to stay here. We're stubborn, we're going to stay strong and try to rebuild if we can," Lanece said.

The Stewards are hoping for more permanent shelter and some type of transportation. Donating to the Terlton Relief Program will help them out.

If you'd like to donate money to Terlton fire victims, you can donate at any Bank of Oklahoma location. Specify that it's for the Terlton Relief Contribution Program.

Contact JumpStart Ministries 918-757-7727 for more information on how you can help.

8/15/2011 Related Story: Fire Chiefs Review Response To Pawnee County Wildfire