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Church group provides relief to town torn apart by tornado

By Elena Watts
July 27, 2013 at 2:27 a.m.

Twenty volunteers from Central Church of Christ in Victoria help with relief efforts in tornado ravaged Moore, Okla.

Lex Moore, youth intern at Central Church of Christ, organized a group of 20 youth and adult volunteers to help with tornado relief efforts in Moore, Okla.

"He's a pretty impressive young man, 19 years old," said Randy Brown, lead minister for Central Church of Christ. "The fact that we let him lead a group of adults and children says quite a bit about him."

On May 20, a tornado that killed 24 people ripped a 17-mile path through the town, which has a population of 55,000.

Moore planned the trip with help from Allied Response to Catastrophes. His second summer internship with the church is part of his preaching and ministry practicum at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Okla., which is 20 miles north of Moore.

Workers have cleared the roads, and homeowners have salvaged what belongings they could, Moore said.

For five days, the group of 14 children and 6 adults have worked more than six hours a day to help clear debris from the devastated site.

"Volunteers from churches and denominations from all over the place were here," Moore said. "Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma, of course. The faces changed daily."

The first two days, the group separated to demolish duplexes in the core of town. In the days following, the whole group worked to demolish one large home.

With the exception of found photographs, children's school work and other tokens, the debris was hauled to piles along the street for trucks to haul away.

"We found old baby pictures, and it was sad to think about the people who lived there," said Tara Marler, 16, of Victoria.

The volunteers removed walls, cabinets and insulation from frameworks before they pulled the structures down with long ropes.

"The worst part was the insulation because it messes with your skin, and I touched a lot," said Merritt McElroy, 10, of Victoria. "It makes you itchy."

Volunteers also shoveled rock and brick debris into trash cans.

"I thought it was fun, good to help out and get closer to God," Marler said.

Adam Stevens, one of the adults, was the only injury of the trip. A brick fell on his head while he was removing exterior brick with a sledge hammer, and the wound required four stitches.

"It's OK; he's not driving," Moore said. "No, really. He's fine. Thankfully, he didn't have a concussion."

It was a great trip, and the volunteers were blessed to be together, Moore said.

"We give God credit above all else," he said.

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