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Hundreds volunteer to help cleanup deadly tornado's aftermath

Volunteers heartbroken by devastation

ADEL, Ga. – American Red Cross volunteers continue cleanup efforts for a Cook County town a week after a deadly tornado tore through it.

Red Cross director Sharon Tyler has been in the area for the last week. Tyler said that every morning at 8 a.m., she and volunteers park at a RaceTrack gas station and ride school buses into the Sunshine Acres Mobile Home Park, where seven lives were taken in the tornado.

“It’s difficult for the volunteers (and) it’s difficult for the survivors because they’re trying to find any and everything that they can that’s salvageable or identifiable,” Tyler said. “There was a young girl that died and one of the main things that everyone has been looking for is her soccer bag because she had just received a scholarship and her letter, her scholarship letter was in her bag.”

Happily, Tyler said that one of the 500 volunteers found the girl’s soccer bag and gave it to police to deliver to the family.

“It’s been a very emotional experience here,” Tyler said. “Yesterday was particularly tough. There’s a family that’s searching for their Bible for one of the survivors. So, it’s kind of an ‘all hands on’ thing.”

Tyler said they’re also looking for shoes for a little girl named Caitlyn.

For Tyler and the volunteers, photos like the one found in the rubble of a teddy bear bring heartache and remind them of the young lives affected by the tornado.

“Our volunteers have been affected, even the ones that have been hardcore, long-term Red Cross volunteers,” Tyler said. “This is something you don’t ever get used to. But, it’s what we do.”

Tyler said what she and the volunteers do isn’t cheap. She estimates that the recovery effort will cost around a million dollars. To keep the effort afloat, she asks that people donate money to the American Red Cross.

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