OCF Wildfire Relief Fund Getting Overwhelming Response of Donations as Damage Count GrowsFri, 20 Apr 2018 16:14:15 CDT
As fires across northwest Oklahoma continue to burn, Michael Kelsey of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association is still working with the relevant authorities to get his arms around the exact number of people and property that has been affected by these wildfires. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays spoke with Kelsey recently to find out what progress he has made in that effort to understand the total impact of these fires. Listen to their complete interview by clicking or tapping on the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“Probably the most definite number we have is the number of acres,” Kelsey said, quoting the rough 360,000 acres burned by the two main fires referred to as the 34 Complex and Rhea Fire. “What we don’t know is the number of families, fence and cattle - those types of things.”
Comparing the damage to the fires that broke out around this time last year, Kelsey says he is afraid the impact might be worse this year. He says the fires this spring are located further south than those fires last year, where the population density is much greater.
“Fearfully, but trying to be realistic, I think the damage numbers are going to be higher,” he said. “We know more houses have been affected for sure. We’re praying it’s not significantly more, but I think we need to be prepared.”
To help producers get a grip on how to begin the recovery process, Kelsey has engaged the OCA’s help in organizing two informational meetings that will take place in Woodward, Okla. on Monday April 23rd and Tuesday April 24th.
The first meeting, on Monday evening, will take place at the Woodward Church of Christ. This meeting will focus on residential loss and how to move forward from there. This meeting, Kelsey says, will prepare attendees with the right questions to ask their insurance adjusters. This meeting is open to everyone - no need to be a member of OCA or even in agriculture.
The second meeting, on Tuesday, will be held at the Woodward Career Tech Center and will focus on the available disaster assistance programs that can help producers recover from the loss of livestock, crops and other agricultural property.
In the meantime, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation has been activated to respond to the growing need in fire-scorched areas. The relief fund through the OCF has already seen a tremendous outpouring from the ag community.
“It’s truly amazing what people will do,” Kelsey said emotionally. “I think it really tells us what we have in agriculture that’s really special.”
One hundred percent of the donations collected by the OCF will be paid out to affected producers within 90 days of the event.
For more information on how you can donate, or to apply for assistance, click here.
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