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Volunteers Help Clean Up Adel Mobile Home Park

Adel's Sunshine Acres Mobile Home Park
Posted at 6:45 PM, Jan 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-29 18:45:00-05

ADEL, GA (WTXL) -- Cook County continues to clean up from last week's deadly tornado, especially in Adel, where seven people were killed at the Sunshine Acres mobile home park.

Over the past several days, volunteers have come from all over the country to salvage what they can and to help families get back on their feet.

"I've been with the Red Cross for 13 years, and you don't ever get used to this," said Sharon Tyler, CEO of the Red Cross Capital Area chapter.

About 80 acres of the mobile home have been destroyed, and most of the 96 mobile homes were no match for the tornado. Only about a dozen are being re-tarped.

"Tremendous amount of cleanup to be left, and it's going to take a while yet before it's completed," said Sherry Buresh, the director of U.S. disaster response at "All Hands Volunteers." The organization has about 30 volunteers in both Thomas and Cook counties.

"This isn't just debris. These are people's lives scattered across these fields," said Jonathan Falk, an FSU grad who serves as a team leader for "All Hands Volunteers."

"It would be very simple just to bring in heavy equipment and scoop everything up and throw everything away," Buresh said, "but the homeowners have lost everything that they've had."

Volunteers on the ground say there's still a lot of work to be done, but they're encouraged by the number of people who have come to help.

"They have made tons of progress since [Saturday] morning," Tyler said. "It's amazing. They had about 500 volunteers out here [Saturday]."

Volunteers continue to search for valued belongings -- precious memories that have survived tragedy.

"One of the young ladies that died -- her parents were wanting her soccer bag, because she had just received a scholarship, and her scholarship letter was in it," Tyler said. "I heard that late [Saturday] afternoon, the bag was found."

"What you're doing is giving the community a chance to step forward," Falk said. "It's one more piece of debris going towards recovery."

Buresh said the need to cleanup is so great that her team is extending its stay in south Georgia. Originally, the group intended to work just for the weekend. Now, Buresh said they'll stay every day until help is no longer needed.