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Originally published: 2014-05-03 16:38:44
Last modified: 2014-05-03 16:39:29

Samaritans Purse helps with tornado devastation

by Allison Haver

After tornadoes caused massive destruction last week across the South and Midwest, international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse immediately began deploying disaster relief experts to the hardest-hit areas.

 A disaster relief unit was dispatched to Mayflower, Ark., Monday morning from the Samaritan's Purse U.S. Disaster Relief headquarters in North Wilkesboro.
On Tuesday, three additional disaster relief units were deployed to Vilonia, Ark., Louisville, Miss., Baxter Springs, Kan., and  Athens, Ala.
The organization is also continuing to monitor the flooding in Florida and Alabama.
The tractor-trailers serve as command centers and are stocked with chain saws, generators and other tools and equipment.

The organization is mobilizing volunteers to assist with the relief effort and will continue to monitor the severe weather situation to determine what may be needed in the coming days.

"This is a massive response for Samaritan's Purse," media relations coordinator Karina Peterson said.
"It looks like five atomic bombs went off," Peterson said. "There are some houses where I can't tell where the foundation was."

The organization and its volunteers will work with homeowners to remove debris, put tarps on damaged roofs and help people salvage personal belongings.
 
"What looks like trash is a lifetime of memories for these people," Manager of U.S. Disaster Relief with Samaritan's Purse Tim Haas said.

Haas said that news of the devastation motivated people to help those affected by the tornados.
According to Haas, churches across the country were reporting that thousands of people had pledged to volunteer to help.

"Volunteers come on their own time, so it's a constant flow of different people coming and going to help," he said. 
Samaritan's Purse will continue to work in all five locations until homeowners no longer need assistance.

"We are here as long as we can find work and have volunteers to help us," Haas said.

Those who are interested in volunteering with the Samaritan's Purse tornado relief efforts can visit  http://www.spvolunteernetwork.org. Donations to help storm victims can be made at  http://www.samaritanspurse.org.