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Oklahoma Tornado: Church protects people and pets

From left, siblings Taylor, Haylee, Clayton and Zane Chiarello grin with their pooches after the storm. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Randy Shrauner.

Photo courtesy of the Rev. Randy Shrauner.

From left, siblings Taylor, Haylee, Clayton and Zane Chiarello grin with their pooches after the storm.

May 21, 2013

Think of United Methodist Church of the Servant as Oklahoma City’s answer to Noah’s Ark.

Since at least 2006, the church has sheltered people and their pets in its 40,000-square-foot basement whenever dangerous storms draw near.

“Pets are such a big part of our people, our congregation and our community’s lives,” said the Rev. Randy Schrauner, the congregation’s executive minister.

“It would be very difficult to say you can come, but the dog has to stay in the car. Generally, there aren’t a lot of problems. Folks usually come in with their pets in a carrier or on a leash and well-restrained, and very rarely do we have to clean up after our guests. We think having to clean the carpet is a small price to pay for good hospitality.”

The church hosted about 250 people and their four-legged friends on the night of May 19  during the storm that ultimately produced a tornado in Shawnee. The church is about 25 miles north of Moore, so it hosted only a few people on the afternoon of May 20 when that tornado cut its devastating path.

Still, when the tornado siren wails, the church expects to once again offer protection from the deluge.

“It’s just cleanup on aisle 3 when it’s all over,” Schrauner said. “We just want to provide good care to our people and good care to our community. So (we take) all comers in a storm. We aren’t going to hold anyone back.”

How disaster giving works

When both the United Methodist Committee on Relief and an annual conference ask for funds, United Methodists who want to help in a disaster might be uncertain where to send donations.

Conferences may set up their own funds to help with the immediate needs of housing, food, shelter and transportation. Conference fundraising is intended for raising money within the conference to meet immediate needs.

Giving to UMCOR through The Advance, the United Methodist official giving channel, ensures that 100 hundred percent of each donation goes directly to the need specified. UMCOR’s administrative costs are covered through a separate fund supported by One Great Hour of Sharing.

Read more about how disaster giving works.