Haertig said she had always wanted to be able to volunteer in a disaster situation and Oklahoma was her chance.
It was a three-day weekend, and she had nothing to do.
She called her sister on Wednesday to make sure she was on board, and the planning began. Prather said shortly after the phone call her sister phoned again trying to back out, but Prather said, “I posted it on Facebook. It’s set in stone.”
She smiles about the Facebook post now. That one post changed the whole scope of her trip. There was an immediate response to the post, “What can I do to help” and “What do you need,” from dozens of people.
The original plan was to take Haertig’s two-door car, but soon the donations had outgrown the car so they borrowed a truck from their dad, and when the donations out-grew the truck, they borrowed a trailer to pull behind the truck, and finally they had enough room.
Both of the sisters’ companies also donated money to the trip. Refugio County Farm Bureau donated $1,000 plus $100 towards gas, and Vantage Bank donated $500 plus $200 towards gas.
The sisters were set and left at about 2:30 on Friday afternoon. The first day, they drove 10 hours and stopped in Ardmore, Okla. for the night. On Saturday morning, they drove first to New Castle to drop off supplies before driving on to Moore.
Prather said the most shocking thing about Moore was the size.
“In our heads, it was the size of Woodsboro,” she said.
In reality, Moore has a population of more than 50,000, and though only a portion of the town was effected, the effected part was hit hard. It has been reported that more than 2,400 homes were damaged by the storm.
Once in Moore, they turned off on a street in a neighborhood that was damaged and proceeded to look for a way to help. They had tried to find an organization with which to volunteer prior to the trip but had no luck.
So their plan was to park along a damaged street, get out and walk until they found someone needing help. Their plan worked.
It wasn’t long before a woman wondered up to them looking for food. They gave the woman food and then asked how they could help her.
The woman was trying to go through the ruble of a house that was owned by a woman that helped raise her.
Haertig said only one wall of the home was left standing.
For hours they helped the lady move pieces of the house to the curb and search for belongings and mementos. They were able to find the deed to the house and a few other items that seemed special to her.
After that, they walked the neighborhood looking in awe at the destruction.
“It looked like someone had gone through with a bulldozer,” Haertig said.
That night, they drove to Norman, Okla., to stay the night.
When they were leaving the hotel the next morning, they saw a man sitting in a lawn chair outside a hotel room. Himself, his three kids and his wife were living in that hotel room. He told them he had lost everything in the storm.
Feeling a pang in their heart for the man and his family, the sisters gave him some money from the $1,500 in donations they had received.
Good deed done, they returned to Moore for day two of helping.
They found another random neighborhood and went in to help.
“There was an old man with a cane looking for his fire box,” Prater said.
The sister searched until they found the box, having to move a refrigerator at one point so they could keep searching.
After the fire box was found, they drove around the neighborhood looking for home owners to give the rest of the donation money to.
Prather said to some people they gave $50, and to others they gave more. If there was a sign that it was a family with children or an elderly person, they tended to give more.
“We wanted to help as many people as we could,” she said.
Though she knows their donation wasn’t life-changing, it was something for people who suddenly had nothing.
Sunday afternoon, they started the long drive back to Woodsboro.
“I am glad we went,” Haertig said.
“I drove off thinking we didn’t make dent, not even a small one, but we made a difference,” Prather said.