ODOC case manager led team of volunteers to Houston for hurricane relief
Allen Woodworth, a Case Manager IV at the Tulsa County District Probation & Parole Office, connects offenders in halfway houses and under GPS supervision with necessary social services.
When he isn’t in the office, Woodworth volunteers with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, and he spent the week of Nov. 13-17 leading a team of volunteers in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Houston.
During the five-day trip, Woodworth’s team of 25 volunteers removed water-damaged debris from three homes and made them safe from looters, water and wild animals. They also worked to secure a women’s substance abuse recovery center.
“Someone had broken into the women’s center and had removed most of the copper wiring in the building,” Woodworth said. “They tore into the walls and ceiling to try to get the copper pipes, too. There was a lot of damage to that center.”
The group patched the walls and ceiling at the center. They put metal bars on the windows and doors to secure the property.
For the homes, Woodworth’s team created temporary roofs with tarps, and they removed the furniture, flooring, sheetrock, damaged ceilings and mold.
“After a tornado or a fire, we could take our Bobcats and just push everything to the curb, but we really do try to go through the stuff to see what we can find that is still intact, mostly the things they ask us specifically to look for,” Woodworth said. “Sometimes we find what they are looking for, and sometimes we will find something they didn’t even think of that actually means much more.”
With more than 100,000 trained volunteers, SBDR is the third-largest disaster relief agency in the United States according to North American Mission Board.
Woodworth is part of SBDR’s more than 1,550 mobile disaster response units on call for local, state and national emergencies.
These units and volunteers from across the U.S. respond to fires, ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods, providing meals, childcare, shower trailers, debris removal, mold remediation and water purification.
“One of the biggest thing we do is allow the people to release all their emotions,” Woodworth said. “There is very little you can really save once it has been in the contaminated water and mold. We let the homeowners be in control of the demolition and help them heal in that way.”
He got involved with SBDR after being told by an area faith-based organization that he could not assist with Hurricane Katrina refugees because he did not have proper disaster relief training in 2005.
“I saw a need, and I saw how effective the program was and everything they were doing,” Woodworth said. “I personally couldn’t resist getting involved.”
Woodworth trained in 2006. His first SBDR deployment was the January 2007 ice storm in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
He has since assisted with 19 disasters, including Hurricane Ike in 2008, the 2012 Fort Collins, Colorado, fires and the Moore, Oklahoma, tornadoes in 2013.
“When people ask us why we do what we do, we tell them it is because of what Jesus has done in our lives,” Woodworth said. “He’s cleaned up our mess, and we want to give some of that peace back to other people.”
Woodworth, 55, has been with the DOC for 34 years. He began his career as a correctional officer in 1983 at the Horace Mann Community Corrections Center.