Volunteers Dedicate Their Memorial Day Holiday to Helping Shawnee

Many volunteers gave their Memorial Day holiday to the survivors of last week's tornado in Shawnee.

"Cut up hands, but it's worth it, you know. The feeling I've got inside now is priceless," said Glenpool resident Kurt Stovall. He brought food and other supplies to one of the most devastated neighborhoods, then helped clear debris from a house the tornado tore apart.

Workers from a tree-cutting business brought their chainsaws to areas that had damaged trees and worked for free. Another small group drove around the area, giving food, baby supplies, shovels, and many other items to families the storm affected. The group included children, whose family members said were there to learn about disasters and help other young people less fortunate.

"We've helped unload semis from Indiana, Kentucky, and all over the place," Patricia James said.

A family working to clear what was left of their backyard workshop said they have seen more than 100 volunteers help them this week. They said they were very appreciative of everyone's assistance. They were able to maintain some degree of normality for their children this holiday. Their daughters spent their Memorial Day volunteering at a ceremony for service members as they do every year.

"It kind of keeps their mind off this," said the girls' mother, Carla Carter. "Helping other people as much as everybody helped us."

While the Memorial Day holiday traditionally commemorates men and women who served their country, volunteers said their ability to help in Shawnee's time of crisis is because of service men and women's sacrifice.

One volunteer said, "We're here with our freedom and everything because of what they went through."

The National Weather Service rated last Sunday's tornado an EF-4. Two people in Shawnee died.