Washington, Illinois (Tornado) / 25,600 Meals over 6 Days

WGN-TV meteorologist Tom Skilling said it may go down as one of the most powerful storms to hit the region in decades. “It appears the storm may have produced the most powerful Illinois November tornado on record outside of St. Louis (and possibly elsewhere) and may be one of the four most intense Great Lakes storms of the past five decades,” he said.  Illinois Governor Quinn later declared seven counties disaster areas. After working with local contacts in order to determine the best location to deploy to, Operation BBQ Relief volunteers as well as volunteers from the Illinois BBQ Alliance were in Washington by Tuesday. After setting up and firing up the smokers, volunteers were able to send out 1,300 meals the first day. On Friday, the funeral for the only Washington fatality was held, OBR volunteers were asked to cater the memorial service.

On Saturday, November 23rd, Operation BBQ Relief surpassed a milestone. In a short thirty months since our formation after the Joplin MO tornado, we served our 500,000th meal. At the conclusion of the six day deployment, Operation BBQ Relief volunteers served 25,600 meals to tornado victims and first responders.

Sponsors: 
OBR Participants:
Jasen & Leslie Adam, Dave Richards, Ron Nunes, Tim Hester, Kevin Friedrich, Colette Deeb, Tim McChesney, Dottie McChesney, Wendy Lehman, JoLynn Truckenbrod, Jason Gwathney, John Wheeler, John Shields, Rob Marion, David McChesney, Brian Polak, Jeff Olson, Rich Jones, Hap Zook, Ron Helms, Jeff Parmele, Margo Nelsen, Shannon Gaunt, Jim Atkinson, Jan Kang, Gary Weigand, Cara Fittrof, Andrew Fittrof, Stephanie Renken, Mike Carson, Taylor Johnson, Elva Davila, Desiree Medina, Caitlyn Kurinsky, Beth Deynolds, Nathan Apodea, Tom Lenning, Bob Brown, Brandon Brown, Jeff Deeds, Andy Burch, Janeva Godby, Mike Therry, Casey Lehman, Sherri Johnson, Tim Johnson, Zach Boland, Tiffani Dutten, Jeromy Brown, Ron Parmele, Kathryn Walter, Eric Engel, Jenni Volk, Joel Bailey, Laura Trckenbrod, Katherine Gross, Liz Curley, Brianna Brown, Cam McChesney, Paul Meister, Ecan McNamera, Jerry Renken, Laura Davis, Megan Dicianan
BBQ Teams involved included:
82’s BBQ, Illinois BBQ Alliance, Designated Smokin’ Area, Bone-Head BBQ, Trails End Smokehouse
We apologize if you or your company is not listed, things can get crazy during a deployment, and we do the best we can to keep track of all the great volunteers and businesses who help make OBR happen.  If you or your company is not listed, please let us know so we can add you to the list.  Email us at  info@operationbbqrelief.org.

Wayne, Nebraska (Tornado) / 1,000 Meals over 1 Day

We apologize if you or your company is not listed, things can get crazy during a deployment, and we do the best we can to keep track of all the great volunteers and businesses who help make OBR happen.  If you or your company is not listed, please let us know so we can add you to the list.  Email us at  info@operationbbqrelief.org.

Volunteer of the Year 2013 – Bryan McLarty

Bryan McLarty, Operation BBQ Relief’s 2013 Rod Cramer Volunteer of the Year.  In this interview, Bryan tells his story of how he and OBR got started.

How did you get involved in OBR?

Like several others, I was chatting on a BBQ forum the night the tornado hit in Joplin, MO. It was a devastating F5 tornado that destroyed most of the town. We began listening to the online scanners, and knew it was bad, very bad. Sitting in our homes safe and secure, we felt the need to help like most did, but didn’t know how. One of the guys online said he was going to go set up his BBQ pit the next morning and start cooking food for people, as we knew everything was destroyed. That one idea is what sparked me and so many others to help. Without hesitation I turned to my wife and said, “I’m going to Joplin to feed people.” I had no idea what I was doing at the moment, or what we would be doing, but like a moth to a flame I was being pulled like a magnet and I couldn’t stop it even if I wanted. I truly believe it was the hand of God telling me, this is your time. I was there for 9 of the 11 days, and from that point I knew what my calling was…serving others using the talents he gave me.

Tell us about the work you have done with OBR?

Since that deployment, I have led and been part of numerous deployments including:

  • Royse City & Forney, TX – Multiple tornado outbreak
  • West,TX – Massive explosion that leveled town
  • Moore, OK – Multiple tornado outbreak
  • Rowlett, TX – Multiple tornado outbreak

I have also organized many fundraisers for OBR. We have partnered with the Mercury One Foundation to feed thousands of people, and raise critical funds for Operation BBQ Relief in the process.

What have you learned through your experience with OBR?

Besides the awesome power of Mother Nature, I have learned that in less time than a single commercial on TV, someone’s life can be changed forever. We think we are powerful as humans, and then we’re brought back to reality in an instant.

I have also seen the true beauty of human compassion. In times of disaster so many people want to help others, and it’s truly humbling. Whether it’s a hot meal, blanket, or just listening to them for a few minutes while they decompress and share their experience. To know the feeling of helping someone who has just lost everything, sometimes including loved ones, is the best feeling a person can have – one that usually leaves you in tears.

What do you want to say to anyone who might be thinking about volunteering?

I say get involved. Please register as a volunteer, and be ready to serve. Here are a couple things that anyone wanting to volunteer should know.

  • First – be prepared to work. It’s the most rewarding beat down you will ever experience, and you will walk away a changed person.
  • Second – Understand that while everyone wants to be a part of helping in a deployment, sometimes you can simply have too many people. Not all volunteers will be called to action at every deployment, but know you were prepared to help nonetheless. There are many ways to volunteer to support OBR without being deployed.

What else should we know?

Everyone should know that Operation BBQ Relief is 100% volunteer, and as such, we are 100% funded by donations. We have never paid a single penny to anyone, and every dollar of your donation goes directly to helping someone affected by some sort of disaster or tragedy.

Bryan McLarty embodies everything that Operation BBQ Relief’s Rod Cramer Volunteer of the Year is all about.  If you know someone who deserves this recognition, nominate them today.   The deadline is April 22nd.  NOMINATE HERE.

Pilger, Nebraska (Twin Tornados) / 6,800 Meals over 4 Days

Rare twin tornadoes raked across northeast Nebraska. They were part of an outbreak of twisters that virtually wiped Pilger off the land and left a path of death and destruction. The 60-mile swath stretched from near Stanton to the edge of Sioux City, Iowa.  The National Weather Service rated the larger tornado that tore through Pilger as an EF4, capable of causing devastating damage with winds of 166 to 200 mph. The parallel twister was an EF2.  The tornadoes killed two people and injured at least 20 others, some critically.

Teams and Individuals involved included:
Troy Youngblood, Ethen Youngblood, Mike Hogan, Amanda Hogan, Ben Zaayer, Charley Zaayer, Dave Feder, Blane Hunter, Don Truckenbrod, Dennis Truckenbrod, Mike Pickette, Dillon Pickette, Christy Davis, Christopher Tierney, Cyndi Russell, Lisa Reda, Rachel Lacy, Chelby Fricke, Matt Hoernemann, Heather Hoernemann, Gabbie Hoernemann, Leslie Gunning-Scofield, Mark Buse, Kathy Buse, Tonya Carpenter, Allen Jackson, Mark Stoffel, Lynette Stoffel, Ashley Iburg, Lindsay Thomson, Mike Burris, Nicole Burris, Travis Johnson, Grant Mapel, Sherry Mapel, Tanya Hollman, Chelsea Kallenbach, Macy Gotschall

Corporate Involvement and Contributions: 

Camo Cowboys BBQ Omaha Nebraska, Pork Patrol BBQ Omaha Nebraska, Porky Butts BBQ Valley Nebraska, Big Machine BBQ West Point Nebraska, TWSS BBQ Omaha Nebraska, Casey’s West Point Nebraska, Wells Blue Bunny Lemars Iowa, Geno’s Steakhouse Wayne Nebraska, Pac N Save Wayne Nebraska, Rotella’s Bakery Omaha Nebraska, The Cure Omaha Nebraska, A1 Heating And Air Omaha Nebraska, Werner Enterprises Omaha Nebraska, Lisa Alfrey Omaha Nebraska, Cyndi Ussell Omaha Nebraska, Jolynn Schwisow Omaha Nebraska, Lisa Reda Omaha Nebraska, Lou’s Norfolk Nebraska, Hockenbergs Omaha Nebraska, The Omson Co Grand Island Nebraska, Cargill Columbus Nebraska, Hadley Braithwait Columbus Nebraska, Jackson Services Columbus Nebraska, Tielke Sandwiches Norfolk Nebraska, Applebees Norfolk Nebraska

We apologize if you or your company is not listed. Things can get crazy during a deployment, and we do the best we can to keep track of all the great volunteers and businesses who help make OBR happen.  If you or your company is not listed, please let us know so we can add you to the list.  Email us at  info@operationbbqrelief.org.

Tupelo, Mississippi (Tornado) / 6,025 Meals over 4 Days

On April 28, 2014, Tupelo, home to 35,000 residents, suffered a direct hit from a violent weather system. Winds were reported up to 170 mph, with the Tupelo tornado estimated to be 1 mile wide.

Corporate Involvement: 
Big Poppa Smokers
Ole Hickory Pits
AmeriGas
Gordon Food Service
17th Street BBQ

BBQ Teams involved included:

We apologize if you or your company is not listed. Things can get crazy during a deployment, and we do the best we can to keep track of all the great volunteers and businesses who help make OBR happen.  If you or your company is not listed, please let us know so we can add you to the list.  Email us at  info@operationbbqrelief.org.

Louisville, Mississippi (Tornado) / 11,060 Meals over 5 Days

On Monday, April 28 an EF-4 tornado struck Winston County, cutting a swath of destruction through the county and into parts of the city of Louisville.

Corporate Involvement: 
Big Poppa Smokers
Ole Hickory Pits
AmeriGas
Gordon Food Service
17th Street BBQ

BBQ Teams involved included:

We apologize if you or your company is not listed. Things can get crazy during a deployment, and we do the best we can to keep track of all the great volunteers and businesses who help make OBR happen.  If you or your company is not listed, please let us know so we can add you to the list.  Email us at  info@operationbbqrelief.org.

Mayflower, Arkansas (Tornado) / 23,400 Meals over 7 Days

Early on April 27, 2014, a cold front from the Rocky Mountains descended on the Plains, fueling intense thunderstorms that spun out a powerful tornado. Beginning at 7 p.m., the twister cut a swath of destruction through the small towns of Mayflower and Vilonia, Arkansas. Sixteen people were killed and 400 to 500 homes were destroyed. The tornado left a 41-mile (66 kilometer) trail of destruction. It was classified with an EF4 rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, meaning it had winds that were between 267-322 kilometers (166-200 miles) per hour.

Corporate Involvement: 
Big Poppa Smokers
Ole Hickory Pits
AmeriGas
Gordon Food Service
17th Street BBQ

OBR Participants:
John Wheeler, Paul Peterson, Alex Knight

We apologize if you or your company is not listed. Things can get crazy during a deployment, and we do the best we can to keep track of all the great volunteers and businesses who help make OBR happen.  If you or your company is not listed, please let us know so we can add you to the list.  Email us at  info@operationbbqrelief.org.