Douglas County begins registering tornado cleanup volunteers

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Douglas County began registering volunteers on Friday May 31 to help tornado victims. Those who want to help now need an access card to get into storm-damaged areas.

Dozens of people had registered by late Friday morning, showing emergency managers identification and filling out forms indicating the tasks they're capable of handling.

Disaster response coordinators want to keep track of the hours volunteers are putting into the clean up campaign because that may help Douglas County qualify for more federal disaster aid.

They also want to keep track of where volunteers are working so that high-priority tasks can have resources needed to get the job done.

Most of the needs currently involve debris removal, cutting up and taking down trees with chain saws.

"It is a big comfort for the homeowner," said Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator for the Great Plains United Methodist Conference. "We want to give them as much peace as can be. Yeah, knowing that someone has come in and has a badge on, it’s like they’ve gone through the proper channels. They are not just coming off the street."

A team from the University of Kansas naval ROTC program was among the volunteer groups who showed up. A recent graduate said it's important to give back to a community that has done so much over the years to support the naval unit.

Others said they personally know tornado victims and want to help them clean up, but they still had to register to do so.

The clean up effort is likely to take several more days, if not weeks. Some homeowners have to wait for insurance adjusters to inspect their damages before any volunteers start removing debris from their property.

People who want to volunteer must fill out an application form by following this link. Find out more about volunteering in Douglas County by visiting their website.

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