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Hundreds of volunteers offer help after storm

OVIEDO Fla. — In the chill blackness of the early morning hours while most individuals slept an ominous storm erupted violently spawning tornadoes that left in their wake a 70-mile-path of catastrophic destruction and tragic loss of life.
In Florida tornadoes of this magnitude are a rare occurrence. However in November 2006 a violent tornado ripped through Oviedo city in Seminole County and on Christmas Day 2006 a series of tornados tore through Volusia County. Now on Feb. 2 2007 at 4 a.m. the central Florida area was faced with yet another serious emergency situation.
It would be hours before the first light of day would reveal the depth and scope of the devastation. City county and state government emergency response teams were immediately activated as a state of emergency was announced in Lake Seminole Sumter and Volusia counties. News media helicopter filming crews began streaming in their video to the local television stations and their affiliates as daylight revealed images of bleak landscapes strewn with debris downed power lines and the shattered lives of those affected by the storm.
Through previous relief efforts in Florida the Church had obtained the necessary state permit to help with disaster relief efforts and on Feb. 3 at 8:30 a.m. hundreds of members met at the Churchs Leesburg meetinghouse. From this center of operation Church members from the Oviedo area in Seminole County were given assignments to offer aid in The Villages in Lady Lake. The Churchs storehouse provided their volunteers with T-shirts tarps cleaning kits gloves and nails while the volunteers provided shovels rakes chain saws and a cheerful willingness to serve those members of their community who had been affected.
I felt for the people. I felt empathy. How would it be to have your home destroyed? How do you pick up the pieces and begin a normal life? If I were ever in that position I would hope that people would come and help me with the work said Orson Badger from Chuluota.
We had to have a special pass to get through Mike Wilson of Oviedo said in reference to a blockade established by police because of the severity of the situation and concern of looting.
When one woman approached the volunteer group asking What are you guys doing here? Jim Caldwell of Oviedo responded Today is your day to be served.
Volunteers with willing hearts hands and in many cases strong backs were welcomed with open arms as they assisted homeowners in putting tarps on roofs and cleaning up debris that was strewn throughout the landscape.
The destruction is so comprehensive. The people were very grateful that at least they were alive and they were very gracious we were there and helping. In one house a poster bed was located right between two windows and when the windows exploded something impaled through the roof right next to their bed where moments earlier they had been sleeping. I wondered how they survived and I stood in awe at what Mother Nature can do said Brady Nixon of Oviedo.

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