Niles teen returns from relief trip to tornado-ravaged OklahomaPublished 5:14pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Brandywine 2013 graduate Chanc Ravish witnessed the aftermath of the May 20 tornado in Moore, Okla., firsthand.
“It looked like the houses were picked up and dropped in the backyard and just completely shattered. There were cars beat up and on top of piles of broken homes,” Ravish said. “A lot of the houses you couldn’t even recognize they were houses it was so bad.”
Ravish, of Niles, and 32 others traveled to Moore with the Northwest Indiana District Church of the Nazarene from May 27 to May 31.
Ravish’s father, Benjamin Norton, is a pastor with the Nazarene church in South Bend.
“I told my dad I wanted to go, and we went,” said Ravish, who graduated from Brandywine Sunday.
Ravish and his church members spent most of their waking hours cleaning debris from a neighborhood near Briarwood Elementary School, where seven students died.
They drove past the school several times.
“You could see the seven crosses they put out in front of the school,” Ravish said.
Ravish said he spent a couple days cleaning debris out of an 83-year-old man’s alfalfa field.
“That was his only way to make income,” Ravish said. “He would’ve had to burn it if it wasn’t cleaned up.”
The rest of the time was spent piling debris in areas where heavy equipment could pick it up and deposit it in dump trucks to be hauled away.
In the evening, Ravish and church members stayed in the dorms at Southern Nazarene University in nearby Bethany, Okla.
In the morning, they’d head back to the devastation in Moore to work and pray.
“We prayed before we started working, and we prayed before we left,” he said. “We prayed for all the families, mostly for them to stay safe and for a speedy recovery.”
It was an experience Ravish will never forget.
“I think it’s a blessing that we are in a situation where we are well enough off to go down there and help those that are less fortunate,” he said. “They have nothing now. Everything has been destroyed down there.”
Ravish, a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, will be leaving July 11 for Advanced Individual Training with the U.S. Army in Leonard Wood, Mo. He completed basic training last summer.
He said he plans on enlisting in the U.S. Army after graduating from Wabash College.