BY MELANIE BUCK –
A local couple made it their priority last week to help the victims, both human and animal, of the Texas Panhandle fires that have burned more than 500,000 acres and continue to ravage through three states.
At least six people have been killed, and thousands of others have been forced from their homes in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Four of those deaths occurred in Texas since that fire began on Monday, March 6. The fires in Texas are now contained and their governor has declared six counties as disaster areas. Four wildfires continue to burn in northwestern Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas and were 42% contained as of Tuesday, March 14.
In addition to human lives, the fires have taken homes, farms, ranches, and livestock. Although some of the fires have died down for now, the risk for more wildfires remains high due to weather forecasts that predict little or no rain for the area through next week. Authorities in one county have said that more than 5,000 cattle are displaced and they have no numbers on how many perished.
Ricky and Darcy Dollar, of Yocana, launched a Panhandle Relief Effort in Polk County planned to take a load of supplies to the victims over the weekend. They asked for the community to rally together and help fill up their truck and horse trailer by Saturday, March 11, so they could deliver on Sunday, March 12.
According to Darcy, they were overwhelmed by the response they received. “We never imagined that this would escalate the way it did. Before we knew it, we had more than our truck and trailer could haul. A family friend, Frank Davis from Cherry Hill, offered to travel along with us with his truck and a 32 foot flat bed, which ended up being plumb full as well.”
In all, the couple collected approximately 7 tons of feed, 1250 lbs of cattle mineral, 3 mineral feeders, a bundle of 5×8 treated wood posts, 23 rolls of barbed wire, a roll of smooth wire, 50 t-posts, t-post wire clips, a case of LA 200, 1 1/2 pallets of bottled water, fence stretchers, 2 bags of milk replacer and calf bottles, leather fence gloves, miscellaneous vet supplies, feed buckets, 20 boxes of clothing, and 6 boxes of family care items with groceries, toiletries, etc. All a true testament of how Polk County rallies together to provide those in need.
Darcy said, “A very heartfelt thanks to all that gave. We had people all over Polk and Montgomery County donating items. We also had a fellow farmer out of Nashville, Aaran Propps, that rallied his community together and brought 6 tons of feed and vet supplies from his area. Also, Southwest Arkansas High School Rodeo donated items that were hauled to us from Hope. Our hearts our so humbled at the sacrifice the members of our community/state have made for those whose lives have been completely torn apart. To God be the glory, He is so good!” Darcy also thanked Sabrina Devers and Family of Perryton, TX, for coordinating relief efforts in their area. “They have done a tremendous job!”
Darcy also explained their trip to deliver wasn’t an easy one either. When they were en route to the Texas Panhandle, one of their flatbeds blew a wheel bearing and caught on fire in Tulsa. The situation turned into the ‘relief needing relief,’ so to speak. “One of the firemen just happened to be a farmer and let us borrow a trailer. Home Depot got their forklifts and unloaded the disaster relief supplies and reloaded them onto another trailer. Not only that, but that group of firemen stayed with our crew the whole three hours we were stopped, watered our horse, and took our flatbed to a place for safe keeping overnight. God is so good!”
By the time they met up with Devers for the supply exchange, the final destination had changed. “Our contact in Texas actually found a family and area near Ashland, KS that needed the supplies and help so that’s where they were delivered.”
Darcy again relayed how much she appreciated the county’s help when the idea arose. “We want to stress how appreciative we are of everyone who donated,” she said.