(Moore, OK) After two days of meticulous searches through a town unrecognizable by its citizens, Tennessee Task Force One completed its search and rescue tasks.
“You’re not used to thinking about children being injured, schools going down, so you just have to work through it,” said Kirk Lock.
The task force spent Tuesday morning searching a field. They came up with nothing but a few pieces of memorabilia, and a birth certificate.
They were later asked to revisit the “ground zero” of the destruction, at Plaza Towers Elementary School.
They invited News Channel 3 to follow along in the neighborhoods hardest hit, but local authorities quickly asked media to leave.
Donald Pannell said they used canines to take a second look through the wreckage. “There’s lots of material covering what we can’t readily see.”
He said it was like covering the area again with a fine-toothed comb.
Those living in the neighborhood came outside the perimeter looking for basic supplies and food.
Patricia Lazaro said, “My son was actually at the Plaza Towers. My sister picked him up right before the storm hit, so we are so blessed to have him.”
But Heather Mathis’ neighbor was not so lucky. They lost their youngest son.
“They had to go to the funeral home and give an outfit for him,” Mathis said, “She was just telling me that he was with his best friends, and that they’re up there playing and having a good time.”
These families all expressed overwhelming gratitude for the task force, and for all volunteers coming from different states to assist.
Stan Keen, another storm victim, said, “I’ve got a hole in the side of the house you could probably put a Mini Cooper in.”
Keen was relieved to find a charging station for his phone, his only line of communication.
Helping at the charging station was Kevin Pierce, from Tupelo MS. Pierce works for a company that provided the long trailer, equipped with a satellite for Internet access and electrical outlets.
Pierce said he wanted to come out to Moore and help people like Keen.
“There are hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of people who have no way of charging their phones,” Keen said.
On the other side of town, Matthew Shumate of Jackson, TN and Peggy Young of Memphis stocked Red Cross vans and prepared for a day of serving food.
Young, on her first trip to a disaster zone, said, “I have seen an awful lot of donations from the community, that I’m not used to seeing.”
Shumate, who is on his 32nd disaster trip, has seen a whole lot more. But he was still taken aback by the generous attitude of everyone there.
While Tennessee Task Force One is finished with their mission in Moore, the Red Cross volunteers will continue to help survivors start their long road to recovery.