Clipper Staff Writer
LAYTON — Whenever the Rev. Myke Crowder handed a $500 check to someone devastated by the Moore, Okla. tornado, he was met with tears of gratitude for the people of Utah who donated the funds.
Crowder, pastor of Layton’s Christian Life Center, and his son Chris, returned from Oklahoma last week after delivering $8,000 in $500 increments to 16 families who lost everything in the tornado, which struck Moore, Okla., on May 20.
“(The money) was very emotionally important for these people,” Crowder said. “They felt a warmth for the people of Utah.”
Crowder distributed the $500 in cash to each family to take care of immediate needs. The money often went for clothing, gasoline for cars, or insurance deductibles.
“The Red Cross and United Way do a phenomenal job helping people in need, but our help fills a hole we were aware of to take care of immediate needs,” Crowder said. Private and governmental agencies can’t fill those immediate needs, he said.
Many of those he met were completely wiped out, having lost homes, cars, their jobs and family members to the E-5 tornado.
“There wasn’t one person we gave the $500 to that didn’t cry,” Crowder said. “We know what we did was irreplaceable.”
He added that he found a sense of emotional fatigue among the tornado’s victims.
Among those Crowder met was Dan Angle, “a kind and gentle man,” whose daughter was among seven killed in the Plaza Towers Elementary School.
There was Ken Busch, who was with his daughter at the school.
“He was waiting to be impaled or for something to crush him,” as he hovered over his daughter. “He was cognizant of being lifted by the wind a little and prayed that he could be aware enough to let go of his daughter if he was lifted into the tornado, and not take her with him.”
There was Crystal Watkins, who hid in the bathtub at home with her three children. Crowder said she tried to get their fat dog into the tub, but the dog wouldn’t climb in until the tornado was upon them. “Then he jumped into the tub as if to say that was a good idea after all.”
Crowder found those in need through a local pastor, Kelly Martin, whose church is on the edge of the debris.
Crowder is still accepting funds at the church’s website clclayton.org. Additional monies raised will be forwarded to Martin, who has agreed to distribute funds in $500 increments to those who need it most.