Local Volunteers Spend Memorial Day Aiding Tornado Victims

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SHAWNEE, Okla.(WHNT)-Trading grill tongs for chainsaws, a day off for a day to help.

There was no rest on Memorial Day for nearly two dozen local disaster relief volunteers who are currently in tornado-ravaged Oklahoma. The team from Prepare and Respond, better known as PAR, spent the holiday clearing debris in Shawnee, Oklahoma, site of an EF-4 twister that obliterated much of that town last week.

PAR spokesman Greg Nelson said the devastation in Shawnee was forgotten by many after an EF-5 tornado leveled nearby Moore, Oklahoma the following day. Nelson said that was one of the main reasons why the faith-based relief squad was sent to Shawnee by local authorities on the ground.

"It is bad, there were two lives lost here in Shawnee," said Nelson, who is helping to lead the team of 23 volunteers. "We've been over there today taking those trees out for them [storm victims], so it could be safe for the family to walk around their property...We have people here from all over the world. We met two ladies last night at the dorms where we're staying in, and they're from Israel. And they flew here just to help the storm victims."

PAR is a volunteer network of more than a dozen Madison County churches who have pre-stocked relief trailers on hand for major disasters. The group has previously deployed to hurricane zones on the Gulf Coast and storm-ravaged areas in the Mid-Atlantic.

PAR officials said the best way north Alabamians can help aid their efforts is by giving online at http://www.parforthecause.net/

Nelson said one hundred percent of the money PAR receives goes to on-the-ground relief efforts in Oklahoma, with no administrative or overhead costs at all.