People have come to Moore, Okla., from miles around to help residents after a destructive tornado there Monday. Here’s what they told The Post’s Melissa Bell.


Volunteers in Oklahoma (Melissa Bell/The Washington Post)

Austin Deweese, 20, Jonathan Welborn, 19, and Derek Hole, 24, drove four hours from Joplin, Mo., to drop off supplies for the residents of Moore. Hole, who worked in search and rescue after the Joplin tornado, and who lost a few friends in the storm, said, “We’ve been through the same thing.” Welborn added, “We wanted to return the favor.”

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Volunteers pace the street asking if they can help. Tents have sprung up with mountains of water bottle cases. Demolition workers in from Wichita wait in parking lots with their cranes, ready to haul away animal carcasses if the police will let them past the barricades.

People want to help in Moore, Okla. Corporations do too. Tyson’s brought in 60,000 pounds of food to the city Wednesday. Martin Childers, head of the poultry association, said Tyson’s was there at any natural disaster, serving food to disaster relief workers. “We are looking for people who need to eat a hot meal.”

 

A crew from Tyson's prepares food in Moore, Okla. Melissa Bell for The Washington Post.
A crew from Tyson’s prepares food in Moore, Okla. (Melissa Bell/The Washington Post)

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Lincoln Fire and Rescue in Moore, Okla. (Melissa Bell for The Washington Post)
Lincoln Fire and Rescue in Moore, Okla. (Melissa Bell/The Washington Post)

Just south of the Southern Baptist Church, Eric Jones’s Lincoln Fire and Rescue team underwent last-minute medical checks before they headed out for their search detail. Jones, the battalion chief, said they had been assigned to the area to search for survivors and identify any hazards. “They’re re-energizing this area, which is good, but it makes me worry,” he said. There were downed electrical wires in the distance, and Jones said those were only some of his concerns. “All the hazardous material in people’s homes are everywhere now. There’s slip-trip-and-fall material. There’s people out here for the wrong reasons.”

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April McBride has a van full of food and nowhere to take it. Parked outside an insurance agent on Fourth Street, McBride and volunteers from Sydney Smiles had enough food “to feed at least 300 people,” but the police would not let them cross into the damaged area. Their goal had been the Orr Family Farm, a horse ranch that reportedly lost dozens of their horses during the storm.

The ranch was just a stone’s throw from the parking lot, but the group decided they should try to pass out their food somewhere else. Donation centers have cropped up all along Fourth Street, creating traffic jams and a surplus of supplies. On the City of Moore’s Web site, a note said that there was only one volunteering opportunity: cleaning up the cemetery.

“Due to the overwhelming generosity of our friends and neighbors, the City of Moore is no longer in need of donations,” a notice reads.

Still, the group with Sydney’s Smiles was determined to pass out their food. McBride said they’d find a corner to set up. And volunteer Brandy Haywood said, “I don’t think at this point there can be too much help.”