Grassroots efforts to help tornado victims

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Reported by: Janna Clark
Updated: 5/23/2013 10:17 am Published: 5/23/2013 10:15 am

Tornado victims need help with the basics, food, water and clothing.

FOX23's Janna Clark found out how a grass roots effort to help with that got started.

Neighbors in the area where Plaza Towers school was destroyed say their homes are leveled.

They lost everything and right down the street, on 4thStreet, a few church members from Edmond brought a pallet of water.

That's how it started, and then strangers started showing up with donations.

Piles of clothing, all kinds of food, people just want to help.

It's tough for Heather Mathis to take that help. She's too numb to realize she's the one who needs it.

"I don't know if it hasn't hit me but I guess I am a victim," she said.

She gets diapers, clothing and food for her, her husband Tully and their 2-year-old, TJ.

"I want to tell them thank you," she said.

From a distance, she can see their neighborhood, obliterated by the tornado.

"I can't even recognize it. I had to count streets to find my house. I've cried so much I can't cry anymore," she said.

Then, Heather starts talking about her neighbor's 8-year-old son.

"I'm never going to hear his voice again," she said.

He died when the Plaza Towers Elementary School crumbled, and the tears come again.

"It hurts because I see him every day," she said.
She says Tully was one of the volunteers who helped pull schoolchildren out of the pile.

"He saw little hands sticking up through the rubble; he helped three babies out of there. They're not babies but babies to me, little grade school kids," she said.

Heather gets why some wonder why people want to stay in Moore, devastated by tornadoes three times since 1999.

Here's her answer, "I never want to leave this town I lived here all my life. It's the people, I know everybody. I'm staying, my neighbors are staying, and we're all staying together, even though it looks like this."

Some of the volunteers who showed up are from Joplin. They said they know what it's like. When they heard what happened they just jumped in their trucks and came to help.

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