Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Heart of servant leadership evident during recent storms

From the Desk of Chief Gregory E. Pyle

January 2014

The heart of the Choctaw Nation is never more evident than in a crisis. The recent ice storm in portions of southeastern Oklahoma left thousands of residents without electricity and heat, and in many cases, without water.

The Choctaw Nation Emergency Management Team started monitoring the storm days ahead. They rented generators and made plans to set up shelters if needed. Thank you to everyone who volunteered to help their neighbors in this time of need.

The Choctaw Nation’s 10-1/2 county service area is largely rural. Many of us were fairly lucky because the precipitation was in the form of sleet. It affected walking and driving. Freezing rain, however, built up on trees and power lines in the eastern counties. Limbs and lines snapped and thousands were without power as a result.

We have 17 community centers and before the storm’s effects were over, three of them had been opened to provide assistance – Hugo, Antlers and Smithville. The Bethel center was also used as a distribution point for water.

The response of our staff was outstanding. They forged partnerships with other organizations such as local emergency response groups, the Red Cross and the Baptist Men’s Association to provide food and a warm haven. Community health representatives (CHRs) checked on their patients whenever possible and several hospital employees spent night and day at the facility.

Replacements couldn’t make it to the hospital to relieve them, so instead of trying to make it home when their shift was over, they stayed to take care of patients. These are just a few examples. Citizens from the areas have expressed their appreciation to the Choctaw Nation because of the quick and professional response.

The true heart of a servant leader has been shown through the acts of putting others’ comfort first. As the Choctaw Nation moves forward, it is great to be confident in the continued success of staff and volunteers who work with such tremendous effort for the people.