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Published: Tuesday, 6/8/2010

Volunteers, groups offer tornado aid

BY ALIYYA SWABY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Krystal Harms, 17, left, and Emily Keil, 18, help sort clothing for tornado victims at Mainstreet Church. Both are Lake High School graduating seniors. Krystal Harms, 17, left, and Emily Keil, 18, help sort clothing for tornado victims at Mainstreet Church. Both are Lake High School graduating seniors.
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Nate Towns, center in blue, an off-duty trooper with the State Highway Patrol post in Bowling Green, coordinates food donations at Mainstreet Church. Nate Towns, center in blue, an off-duty trooper with the State Highway Patrol post in Bowling Green, coordinates food donations at Mainstreet Church.
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After a tornado hit Fulton County Saturday night, Drew Fox left his house just hours later to see if anyone needed help.

Mr. Fox, 32, who lives in Delta, Ohio, about four miles from where the tornado struck, stayed out for more than four hours volunteering to help people nearby find personal items and pets. His wife, Sara, 30, offered pasture room and stalls for tornado victims who needed a place to put their horses.

"I hope to God someone would help me if I was in this situation," Mr. Fox said.

Mr. Fox is one of many individuals and organizations that have donated services and supplies to assist victims of the tornadoes in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan over the weekend. Volunteers are continuing to organize to help cleanup efforts and provide food and other supplies.

Wood County officials have asked United Way's Volunteer Center, which usually connects people with volunteer opportunities, to set up a reception center to direct volunteers and victims to a central location, said Kelli Kreps, a spokesman for United Way.

The center was set up at noon yesterday at Grace United Methodist Church on East Boundary Street in Perrysburg and can be reached by calling the number 211. As of 3:30 p.m. yesterday, United Way had received 430 calls, including 180 from volunteers, about tornado relief efforts, Ms. Kreps said.

Not only individuals but also businesses - including Lowe's, ProMedica, and UPS - have contacted United Way to offer supplies, such as gloves for workers.

Volunteers are to be sent out today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to help with cleanup of Wood County, she said.


The American Red Cross also has been working with United Way to provide volunteers trained to deal with disasters, said Peggy Holewinski, development officer for the Toledo area's Red Cross.

A smaller organization, ISOH/IMPACT, which has donated about five million meals this year to victims of national and international crises, started a program called the Bucket Brigade to collect food and most supplies, not including clothing, for the tornado victims and for later disasters, said Linda Greene, the group's president.

"I heard through the Weather Channel that natural disasters will be high this year," she said. "There always seems to be a disaster on the road."

Donations can be dropped off at any area Tireman Auto Service Center, at ISOH/IMPACT's warehouse on Farnsworth Road in Waterville, and at the POD Container in Levis Commons.

The Salvation Army is among other organizations coordinating volunteer responses and accepting donations.

Individuals near the affected areas are trying to help out in any way they can.

Tracy Ulrich, owner of Lil Rascals Clothing and More in Oregon, decided to donate 15 percent of this week's profits to help tornado victims in Walbridge and Millbury. Estimating using last week's revenue, Ms. Ulrich, 44, said the donation would be about $300, and she might continue the effort into next week.

Though she does not know anyone affected, she said most of her customers come from affected areas, and she was moved by the disaster.

Similarly Andy Katona, 48, who lives in Columbus, hours away from the disaster, said he read about the tornado yesterday and decided to organize volunteers to help clean up.

He is the assistant organizer for a group called the 912 Project, and he said it might help the victims to know that there are people outside of the area who want to help. "As soon as they can get the mess cleaned up and not have to see it all the time or worry about it, the better off they'll be," he said.

A few people have put up advertisements on the Web site craigslist.com, either offering donations or asking for assistance.

Duaine Wohlers, 43, owner of the Clinton Thrift Store in Clinton, Mich., said he advertised his store's donation of clothing and supplies on craigslist.com yesterday morning because it was the fastest way to spread the word. He said no one has yet contacted him about the ad. "[The tornado victims and volunteers] are welcome to come and take what they need," he said.

To aid cleanup efforts, the city of Toledo offered landfill space to any affected home-

owners. Jen Sorgenfrei, spokesman for Mayor Mike Bell, said property owners may take debris to the Hoffman Road Landfill and dispose of it for free.

Mayor Bell and the city's fire and police chiefs offered assistance Sunday to all of the affected communities, Ms. Sorgenfrei said.

Staff writer Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.

Contact Aliyya Swaby at:

aswaby@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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