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Hundreds of volunteers in ‘remarkable’ effort

Hundreds of volunteers in ‘remarkable’ effort
Hundreds of volunteers in ‘remarkable’ effort
Brian, right, and Jordan Churchill of Depauw were two of hundreds of workers with chain saws that showed up in Marengo the day after a tornado slammed into the town. (Photo by Wade Bell)

Sunday was a much-needed official ‘day of rest” for Marengo residents and hundreds of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help townspeople back on their feet since a tornado whipped through one week earlier, leaving much of the town in rubble.
Roxanne Haley, business administrator for The Salvation Army, which has coordinated the volunteer efforts, said the support for Marengo has been nothing short of ‘remarkable.’
‘It has been so wonderful to see the outpouring of people wanting to help their neighbors,’ she said.
Haley estimated Saturday that about 500 volunteers had come to help. That number, she added, does not include groups that didn’t sign in with the Salvation Army, such as the 100 or so National Guard troops and Indiana Dept. of Transportation work crews.
Volunteers have come from all over and have included individuals as well as various groups, from the Boy Scouts of America to student athletes from the University of Louisville to about 20 Amish from Salem.
Several large non-profit organizations helped collect and distribute donations and assisted with the cleanup. The first to arrive was the American Red Cross, which opened an emergency shelter at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School shortly after the tornado hit a week ago Sunday.
Once the shelter was no longer needed, the Red Cross began an outreach center at Hillview Christian Church, west of town, to assist victims regarding where to go next for help.
Samaritan’s Purse, the Franklin Graham ministry based in Boone, N.C., brought a semi trailer to Marengo Elementary School Wednesday. About a dozen Samaritan’s Purse volunteers have teamed with youth and adults from Hillview Christian Church to help in town.
About 40 volunteers with Adventist Community Services have been handing out hygiene packets along with donated non-perishable food items, clothing and cleaning supplies at Marengo Elementary School since the day after the tornado.
‘So long as the people can come down and get the supplies, so long as we have supplies, we’ll be here,’ said Katheryn Ratliff, the group’s disaster response coordinator.
Ratliff, like all the volunteers, has been putting in long hours and sleeping at the school. The relief pantry is open from about six o’clock in the morning until six or seven at night.
Haley said the Salvation Army arrived in Marengo about ‘an hour after the tornado hit.’ In addition to coordinating the recovery effort, the Salvation Army has provided food for emergency workers and volunteers at the command center at the Marengo Fire Station and with a mobile kitchen.
Haley came to town the night the tornado hit and went to work, almost around the clock. (She estimated Saturday afternoon that by the end of the day she would have worked about 80 hours that week.)
After taking Sunday off, Haley said she would return Monday and later in the week, possibly as early as today (Wednesday) or tomorrow. The Salvation Army will assist Federal Emergency Management Agency officials when they begin addressing victims about assistance.
‘We’re going to try to fill in the gap with any financial assistance we can, maybe with some unmet needs,’ she said.
Ratliff said donations are helpful, but many victims have lost things that can never be replaced. Sometimes, they just need somebody to talk to, she said.
‘With all of us working together, we’re just trying to put everyone back together,’ she said.