“Everything’s bigger in Texas,” the old saying goes, and Texans are demonstrating their hearts are bigger than any storm.
Since December 26 when the Dallas area was hit by tornadoes — some with winds as strong as 200 miles per hour — so many volunteers have come to the rescue that recovery teams have sometimes turned them away because of an over-abundance of help.
Cities have started asking people to sign-up before arriving at disaster sites to better manage the volunteers. The city of Garland has set up a website specifically for people who want to help. In Rowlett, citizens have set up an unofficial Facebook page to let community members know what and where contributions are needed.
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“This is an amazing community,” Rowlett resident Brandi Hurst told Good News Network. “Many restaurants and grocery stores have been giving away food to those affected, complete strangers have opened their homes and have been searching for missing pets— such an outpouring of love!”
Neighbors have been stopping by Moates Elementary School in Glenn Heights to drop off toys and food for displaced families sheltering there.
About 400 people showed up Monday at another elementary school to salvage desks, books, and other school supplies from the building that had been destroyed while unoccupied in Red Oak.
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“This really hit home,” Periete Todd, a volunteer at the shelter, told KXAS News. “Everybody cannot just sit at home and not participate… It is awesome, it shows what a great community that we live in.”
Area Chick-fil-A restaurants discarded their “never open on Sunday rule” to make free sandwiches for first responders and storm victims.
“A huge thank you to Chick-fil-a from the Garland FD!!!!” Garland firefighter Kevin Douglas wrote in a Facebook comment. “The sandwiches have been awesome and kept us going. God bless y’all!!”
Other first responders are getting financial help from the Dallas Police Department’s “Assist The Officer Foundation.” At least 17 officers had their homes damaged or destroyed in the storms. The foundation has handed out $20,000 in two days to help police officers and their families with temporary housing.
Dallas-based American Airlines has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross’ relief efforts in the four-county area around the city affected by the storms.
And people are not forgetting the animals.
Volunteers are patrolling damaged neighborhoods, rounding up lost pets and helping them find their families. In the video below, Comia Peoples cried tears of joy after searchers reunited her with her dog, Lexi, after finding the pup in the ruins of her Glenn Heights home.
The Dallas Morning News put together a collection of 15 links to help people locate pets lost in the confusion of the storms.
Christian humanitarian organization World Vision normally sends relief packages around the world, but the storm hit close to home, so the group began distributing hygiene kits, family food packs, blankets and clothing from its nearby Grand Prairie warehouse.
Even as they were helping fellow Texans, there was enough charity in the Lone Star State to overflow to others. That same Grand Prairie warehouse also readied shipments for storm victims in Mississippi and Georgia over the weekend.
Photos: Kristina Ortega and Patrick Gustafson, Rowlett TX, Facebook
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