New Help for Laurel Tornado Recovery
On Tuesday, volunteers from Lowe's Home Improvement handed out clean up buckets to tornado victims. Each bucket contained trash bags, gloves, mildew and mold remover, and a tarp--all items that can be used as homeowners continue to sort through the tornado's debris.
"As soon as it all happened, the store manager in [the Seaford] store, Mike Snowden did reach out
and he wanted to make a difference," says Lowe's Area HR representative Jared Carson. "So they immediately came out, delivered some water to emergency volunteers that were here and from there it just kind of grew. We wanted to be part of it: to help with this disaster relief."
Alongside the Lowe's crews were volunteers from Team Rubicon: an organization primarily made up of veterans that specifically respond to natural disasters.
"We work one on one with people," says Incident Commander Jim Bartlett. "We bring a great deal of empathy to the table, and we really just sort of help people through what is now going to become a process for them."
Bartlett says this mission is named Operation Blue Hen, and they plan to be in Laurel for at least the rest of the week. Bartlett says veterans with machinery experience help clear out downed trees, and others are helping victims go through personal belongings.
Mike Reynolds' home was destroyed in the tornado, but he says he was lucky.
"I mean yes I lost my house, but it could have been a lot worse," he says.
Reynolds says the entire community has come together to help him and others clean up and start a new normal.
"Churches, some of the schools, everybody is just pitching in," he says. "We are trying to get through it all, pick up the pieces literally."
Laurel Mayor John Shwed says the community support is an example of why Laurel is "Bulldog Strong."
"It's just another sign that in America, we like to be good neighbors," he tells WRDE. "When people have a problem on their hands, people come to their rescue."
Shwed says a number of fundraisers will be held to aid tornado recovery efforts, including one at the American Legion on May 3rd.