After his hometown was destroyed by an EF-5 tornado on May 20, Zach Cox drove from North Carolina to Oklahoma to help his former neighbors
Zach Cox lived in Moore, Okla. for seven years. Although his family eventually moved to High Point, N.C., many of his childhood friends still live in the area. When an EF-5 tornado smacked his hometown on May 20, he felt that his only option was to go.
“On the news, my heart hurt, but I didn’t really understand because I didn’t see it with my own two eyes,” he said. “That’s why I wanted to get out here.”At first he tried to buy a plane ticket, but he couldn’t find anything that would get him into Oklahoma quickly. He started to think that his plan was unrealistic, so he tried to put it out of his mind. But that night, his thoughts kept flashing to the images on the news.
The next day, his cousin called him and asked if he wanted to go to Oklahoma. Cox said that he had been thinking about it, so they began gathering supplies to take to the survivors on a small trailer. When they arrived in Moore, it was a different city from the one Cox remembered.
“When I got out here, the first little bit that I saw when we got into Moore, I started tearing up,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think. It was very emotional and overwhelming just to see that your hometown that you lived and played and hung out and done all kinds of stuff in was just destroyed.”
In 1999, an EF-5 tornado hit Moore with the fastest winds ever recorded near the earth’s surface. Samaritan’s Purse responded to that tornado and set up at First Baptist Church of Moore, where Cox’s father was the pastor. Although Cox was too young to do physical work with Samaritan’s Purse, he became acquainted with the organization while he worked in the church distributing water and other supplies.
When Cox arrived in Oklahoma, he dropped off the supplies he had collected and drove to Emmaus Baptist Church, a church plant from First Baptist Church of Moore and the church where Samaritan’s Purse was based. He completed his first day of work the Friday after the storm had caused so much damage.
After only one day of volunteering, Cox said he wants to quit the landscaping business he owns and go into disaster relief fulltime. He appreciated the kindness of the homeowners and enjoyed spending time with them and the other volunteers.
“It’s challenged me physically but also mentally knowing that where I used to live was just destroyed,” he said. “‘What if it was my house?’ kind of thing. It makes me realize how blessed I am.”