Volunteers Flock To Saragosa To Aid Victims With AM-Texas Tornado, Bjt
SARAGOSA, Texas (AP) _ The owner of an Odessa restaurant brought his catering truck filled with food, and boarding school students arrived from New Mexico to help sift through the rubble.
Hundreds of volunteers worked Sunday to help this tiny farming community recover from Friday’s devastating tornado, which leveled nearly every building in town.
″There’s really been an outpouring from the community,″ said Susan Clowe, an American Red Cross disaster specialist.
Volunteers combed through the splintered remnants of houses and handed out free food and drink as people gathered for a memorial service for the dead.
Catfish restaurant owner Sid Clark said he brought his catering trailer after learning that a friend of one of his employees had lost several family members.
″We got to talking about that and decided to do what little we can do,″ Clark said, adding that 350 were served for breakfast. ″It’s not anything major, but I feel like we’re doing what we can.″
The tragedy at the predominantly Hispanic community overwhelmed any racial distance, said Pat Kelly, who drove in from nearby Pecos Sunday to help.
″As far as racial barriers go, they all flopped to the ground. When it comes to the Mexican people and the white people, they will help each other out,″ he said.
″Everyone has been so sensitive in meeting the needs of the grieving families,″ said El Paso Bishop Raymond Pena, who conducted a memorial service Sunday.
A charitable organization based in Montreal, Canada, called Reeves County officials to offer clothing and toys from its clothing bank.
″And we’ve offered to have 60 of their youngsters come to Montreal to spend two to four weeks at our summer camp,″ said Sid Stevens in a telephone interview from Montreal. Stevens works with the Sun Youth Organization.
″Borders do not exist between brothers as close as the United States and Canada in times of disaster,″ Stevens said.
More than 20 Salvation Army volunteers were at the disaster site, and a Seventh-day Adventist emergency crew from Amarillo also set up a relief station.
A group of probationers from Midland County sorted out salvagable items from the debris and stacked the rest into a neat pile.
Tyson Eicholtz, one of the probation center officials, said it was the first time probationers had been told to work off restitution through disaster relief.
″I could have brought more people down but the van was full,″ he said. ″They were ready to go right then and there.″
About 25 volunteers from a New Mexico boarding school arrived late Saturday by bus to help with the cleanup and salvage.
″We’re just trying to find anything that’s salvageable,″ said Brian Oster, a student at the Sandia View Academy in Corrales, N.M. ″This town is lots worse than I ever expected.″
Dan Wagener, director of Red Cross disaster relief, said he did not know how much financial aid has been gathered. The Red Cross has set up a toll-free number of 1-800-453-9000 for pledges.
″We’ll be here as long as it takes to meet people’s needs,″ he said, adding that a relief station would open Monday in nearby Balmorhea.