Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Volunteers Respond to Stricken Counties

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Volunteers Respond to Stricken Counties

Article excerpt

KISSIMMEE -- Tracy West called her boss at Disney World

yesterday and said she would be out the rest of the week.

Even though she felt fine, West said she called in sick because

she knew many of her neighbors in Osceola County were hurting.

West, 22, was one of about 600 volunteers who flocked to the

four-county region in Central Florida that was struck by

powerful tornadoes late Sunday and early Monday.

"I came as soon as I heard about it on the radio," said West,

who distributed clothing and water yesterday to tornado victims

outside the devastated Ponderosa Park Campground. "I'll be here

until it all gets cleaned up and all the families are back

together."

The massive outpouring of support for the victims of the

state's deadliest storm ever proved to many victims that the

worst disasters always bring out the best in people.

"In any way I've needed help, I've gotten it," said Pedro

Lopez, 76, whose home in the Lakeside Estates subdivision was

laid waste by the tornado. He and his wife, Gloria, 77, escaped

injury and were staying with friends.

At the Ponderosa, students from Florida Christian College in

Kissimmee used three grills to cook burgers, chicken and hot

dogs for tornado victims and relief workers. One student walked

over to a woman left homeless by the storm and put his arm

around her to comfort her.

At Lakeside Estates, Pastor Jose Mejias of the Iglesia de Dios

Pentecostal drove around in a huge church van giving rides to

victims whose cars were upended. Many needed to go to the store,

the pharmacy or the hardware store.

"Everybody's giving a hand to everybody," Mejias said. "Besides

all this tragedy, everyone is doing great because they're

thankful their lives were spared."

In every neighborhood that suffered storm damage, people from

throughout Florida and the nation came to provide whatever help

they could.

The Salvation Army provided about 150 volunteers who are

rotating eight-hour shifts to help the victims around the clock.

The American Red Cross flew in 250 volunteers from around the

country. …

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