LONE GROVE — More than 500 volunteers are expected to converge on Lone Grove this weekend to help with a massive effort to clean up miles of debris from the Feb. 10 tornado. Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. today at the Assembly of God in Lone Grove, 15657 U.S. 70. More volunteers are needed. Paula Buchhllz, 40, of Parkersburg, Iowa, came with her husband, Michael, and two teenage sons, Peyton and Josh. Paula Buchhllz, a high school biology teacher, said an EF5 tornado last year ripped through her hometown, destroying her house and the area’s high school. The Aplington-Parkersburg School District raised $2,000 for Lone Grove residents and sent care packages of quilts and toiletries with the Buchhllz family. "We never could have gotten on our feet again without volunteers,” Buchhllz said. "We decided as a family and as a community to do what we could to help others who are facing the same horrible circumstances.”
What’s storm’s toll?The tornado last week in Lone Grove claimed eight lives and destroyed more than 100 homes. State and federal officials say they are still assessing the damage and have not determined a monetary loss. A team from the Carter County assessor’s office will be out Monday calculating losses and making adjustments to property tax rolls, said Eric Dellinger, assessor’s deputy. So far, 135 people have applied for financial assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Volunteers have trickled in from across the United States, said Teri Beane, Assembly of God outreach minister. Some are staying in hotels in Ardmore and the surrounding area, but many are camping around Lake Murray. Beane said the tornado’s 18-mile path remains a scene of devastation, and volunteers will focus on debris cleanup and clearing areas so temporary housing can be moved in.
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HOW TO GET HELPAid site opens today State and federal authorities are opening a center today in Lone Grove to help residents affected by last week’s tornado. The center will help victims register for relief and fill out loan applications and will provide details and contacts for other aid programs. Authorities urge aid seekers to first register for federal disaster help by calling the Federal Emergency Management Agency at (800) 621-3362. The center, at U.S. 70 and Newport Road, will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 1 to 7 p.m. Sundays.
Food stamps availableCarter County residents were approved for disaster food stamps from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday. Households that experienced property damage, loss of income or other disaster-related expenses as a result of the Feb. 10 tornado qualify for the program. Today through March 6, applications for assistance may be filed with the disaster recovery center at U.S. 70 and Newport Road in Lone Grove. Food loss alone does not qualify a household for benefits. Guidelines for eligibility and participation can be found at: www.fns.usda.gov/disasters/response/D-SNAP_Handbook/guide.htm. SOURCE: Oklahoma Department of Human Services Communications Director George E. Johnson Jr.