People give up Memorial Day holiday to clear tornado debris in Moore, southwest Oklahoma City

On the third day of the Memorial Day weekend, there was no letup in the throngs of volunteers who clogged Moore streets to help tornado victims.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: May 27, 2013 at 11:29 pm •  Published: May 28, 2013

On a holiday often thought of as an excuse to cook out or visit the lake, an army of volunteers descended on Moore and southwest Oklahoma City armed with shovels and rakes and determined to help clean up the damage left by last week's deadly tornado.

The neighborhoods affected by the May 20 EF5 tornado that killed 24 people and left more than 1,000 homes in ruin were clogged Monday with people who wanted to help.

They came from down the street, across town and across state lines. Some were with church groups. Others piled in a car with friends and drove hundreds or thousands of miles.

Dozens of volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cleaned a neighborhood near SE 149 and May Avenue. Gissella Lusk, of Oklahoma City, said she spent most of the weekend volunteering and has been overwhelmed by how many others she has seen doing their part.

“The people here are so generous with their time,” Lusk said. “Some people are not able to lift debris, but they are doing what they can. My daughter baby-sat on Friday so others could come help.”

Heather Smith, of Dallas, said she was part of a group of Mormons who helped clean up after a hurricane, but she has never seen damage quite like what she encountered here.

“It's daunting to think how many people will have to serve to get this all cleaned up,” Smith said. “Even just this one house — we'll be here all day, and maybe we will get it done.”

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