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Mailbag: Helping While Feeling Helpless

March 1, 2024

Mailbag: Helping While Feeling Helpless

Our community is in distress, and all of us should be concerned.

Welcome back to the Mailbag. 

There have been times over the last couple of years that we stressed the importance of community. 

Last year, tornadoes ravaged two towns in our region. Today, it's fire.

At the time of writing, the largest of the Panhandle fires, known as the Smokehouse Creek Fire, has burned more than 1 million acres of land and hundreds of homes. It is the largest wildfire in Texas' recorded history. 

By Tuesday night the smoke from more than 100 miles away had reached Lubbock.

Houses. Farms. Crops. Pets. Cattle. Infrastructure. Injuries. It will take a long time to account for the damage. 

It's a helpless feeling. Nature can be cruel. 

At times like this it's vital that the broader community support those impacted. 

As such, rather than waste space with flowery words or poorly worded jokes, what we're going to do in today's Mailbag is share information. 

For perspective, we reached out to a Texas Tech University alumna who is on the ground in the Panhandle with the Texas A&M Forest Service. 

Her name is Megan Mahurin. She's an assistant public information officer who has been involved with more than a few of these fire fights. 

What she told us was the Texas A&M Forest Service anticipated fire weather and had its resources ready to go Saturday when the first fire popped up. 

Then, as things escalated, other resources were called in. 

The Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, Texas All-Hazard Incident Management Team and one out of state complex incident management team were all part of the response. 

They brought with them dozens of bulldozers, a motor grader, fire engines, hundreds of people and even aircraft to help combat the wildfires. 

“We've got a lot of boots on the ground,” Mahurin said. 

Even with that effort, wildfires of this sort, coupled with high winds and dry conditions, are incredibly hard to contain. 

When we asked what we could do to help, Mahurin explained that her team is also fighting the spread of misinformation. 

She pointed to this website – InciWeb the Incident Information System (nwcg.gov) – as a great resource updated by the Texas A&M Forest Service for anyone seeking accurate information on the fires. 

In talking with people around the Texas Tech community, it's clear that Red Raiders are ready and willing to help. Multiple colleges and programs are setting up relief funds or donation drop offs and looking for ways to lend support.

If you're affiliated with a college and want to support these efforts, please check their social media pages for information about where you can help. 

For others looking to help, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal compiled a list of ways to provide assistance. You can find that here. A list compiled by Everything Lubbock can be found here and the Texas Panhandle Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters is a great place to find active volunteer organizations. 

Our hearts go out to those who are suffering. 

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