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Victims of Oklahoma Tornado Get Help From Near and Far

Victims of Oklahoma Tornado Get Help From Near and Fari
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May 24, 2013
In the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, the recovery from Monday's deadly tornado is picking up speed, even as locals mourn the loss of at least 24 people, including 10 children. Funerals will begin Friday in Moore, and President Obama plans to visit the town Sunday. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Moore, resources are pouring in from all over the country to help those in desperate need.
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Greg Flakus
In the Oklahoma City suburb of  Moore, the recovery from Monday's deadly tornado is picking up speed, even as locals mourn the loss of at least 24 people, including 10 children. Funerals will begin Friday in Moore, and President Obama plans to visit the town Sunday. Resources are pouring in from all over the country to help those in desperate need.

The devastation of her home brought a bitter twist of irony to Linda Berna. She helped with search and rescue efforts here after the May 1999 tornado.

“We kicked down doors to see if there were any survivors, and now here I am on the other side. I never thought this would happen,” Berna said.

Hundreds of people like Berna are coping with loss and trying to survive.

To help them, Moore's First Baptist Church offered its large property as a center for relief operations.

For people in Moore who lost their homes or had homes heavily damaged, state and local officials, as well as private groups, have set up a command center here to provide them with food, and shelter if necessary.

But most people don't need to come here because volunteers load up trucks with water and food to distribute around town.

Donations have poured in from around Oklahoma and from many other states.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is on hand; so is the Red Cross.

And there are representatives from major insurance companies helping people file claims.

The State Farm company even offered relief in the form of free ice cream cones.

Moore resident Natasha says USAA insurance adjusters quickly provided her with a way to fix her home's damaged roof.  
 
“They said 'you were affected by the tornado, what were your damages?' They were real helpful, they took our claim,” Natasha said.

The USAA insurance company brought in a mobile claims processing unit from Texas and has 120 claims adjusters here.  

The tornadoes damaged or destroyed around 12,000 homes, with the total cost exceeding $2 billion. But Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak says that isn't his main concern.

“There are a lot of people out here trying to help hurt people who have lost loved ones, and we are trying to help them with their homes and autos and other things, but it pales in comparison of the loss of life,” Doak said.

On Friday, some of the activity here will cease as the church is used for two funerals of tornado victims, the first of many to come.

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