Bill and Jamie Stoops have been through a lot since the May 19 tornado destroyed their home and vehicles. Jamie said through all of it, they have been blessed. Tuesday, the Stoops received a mobile home.
When Melynda Montgomery drove to Little Axe from her home in New Mexico to take care of her property that had been trashed by the tenants she was leasing to, she had no idea what the day had in store for her.
She said upon driving up to the property and seeing the destruction left behind, she wasn’t sure where to turn because she didn’t know anybody in the area. She pulled her car into the shade under a tree and sat with her dog, calling all hotels, trying to find somewhere to stay for the night.
Unable to find a room close to her location due to the amount of people left without a home after the tornados, she said she found a hotel in Oklahoma City.
She said she put her head down, looked at her dog and said, “What am I going to do? I need a dump truck.”
As soon as she said the words, Montgomery said she raised her head to see a truck driving past with a trailer attached. On the side of the truck was written: Disaster Relief. She said she quickly pulled onto the road and flagged him down. She asked how much he would charge to help her and introduced herself. After explaining her situation, the driver of the truck agreed to take a look at the place.
The driver was Don Ellis, also from New Mexico. The two had never met and only realized they were both from New Mexico because Ellis noticed Montgomery’s tag. She said she told Ellis that she didn’t know what to do with her property and didn’t have a need for the mobile home. She said that’s when Don told her about Bethel Acres and the devastation in the area.
Ellis and his family came to Steelman Estates a couple of weeks ago under a charity organization from New Mexico. With them they brought supplies from Red Cross to help families affected by the storms. Ellis said that’s when he met Bill Stoops, who was also helping with disaster relief after loosing his own home.
“He’s probably the most humble man I’ve ever met,” Ellis said.
Page 2 of 4 - During their time helping, Ellis said he really got to know Bill and his family. He said Bill always joked, but never complained.
“The only thing that bothered him was that his family wasn’t together,” he said.
Montgomery however, had never met the family until she met Ellis.
“When I went down to that area, I just bawled,” Montgomery said. “To see the devastation was beyond me.”
After the Stoops family met Montgomery and Ellis, Jamie Stoops said she thought they had both returned to New Mexico. She said she was already thankful for Ellis because he pulled her daughter’s truck out of the rubble so she could receive help from FEMA.
She said her husband, Bill, had said something about Ellis a few days after she thought they had returned home.
“He told me Don was going to help other people,” she said.
Stoops said she had no idea the plan was underway. She said her kids and grandkids were even involved.
“I didn’t know my kids could keep a secret,” she said joking.
While out at Steelman Estates, Stoops said Ellis brought her family a set of stairs and told her it was for them. She said they all smiled and then he asked if they knew what went with it. Everyone was silent, including Ellis for a while. Then Stoops said Ellis asked them what all the commotion was about around the corner.
“There were police lights,” she said.
Stoops later found out her son had a police officer escort the mobile home. As the line of cars turned the corner, the Stoops family saw the mobile home.
“It was so exciting,” Stoops said.
She said they were told her family was chosen for the home because everyone wanted to see their family back together. Before this, the Stoops family was split up between three houses after the tornado.
“Now we’ll be able to have our family back together,” she said.
Stoops said everyone has been really great and helpful. Ellis told her he planned on going to get appliances with his son, Michael, for the family.
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Ellis said on top of the furniture and appliances already given to the family, they will get to go pick out things they don’t have yet today.
She said their neighbors have been supportive as well, telling them they are glad it happened to them.
Ellis said every neighbor said if there’s a family out there that deserves it, they do.
“Their spirits are through the roof,” he said. “That’s the most rewarding thing. Period.”
Ellis said lots of organizations from New Mexico and the Shawnee area, including Clayton Homes in Oklahoma City, have helped make this possible. He said the Stoops family deserves it and are good people.
“We’ve met friends we’ll keep in touch with forever,” Stoops said.
Ellis agreed saying, “They’re family to us now.”
Ellis and Montgomery spent days cleaning out the mobile home to make sure everything was perfect, said Montgomery. She said they spent greater than 30 hours cleaning.
“I want all the glory to go to God. He put this all together. He made this happen,” she said. “Nothing like this could have happened without God.”
Montgomery said her blood, sweat and tears are in that place and she couldn’t be happier to see the family holding hands and walking into the house. She said she handed them the keys and said, “See that. That’s yours.”
“It was great to be able to be a part of this,” she said. “It was beautiful.”
Montgomery said she couldn’t stress enough how much God deserves the glory in this situation.
“The healing has begun,” she said.
Stoops said she couldn’t thank everyone enough for all they’ve done for her family, including the donation of the mobile home.
“She’s [Melynda] just so so sweet,” she said.
Ellis said he and his family and friends are trying to find other ways to help.
“We’re looking into some other homes,” he said.
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Ellis said if it weren’t for Melynda doing what she did, they couldn’t have done what they did so he is thankful for her and her part in everything.
“God’s definitely made it all happen,” he said.