- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

COXEY, Ala. (AP) - The time to say goodbye was emotional for Stacey Ridgeway, director of the Clements Baptist Church tornado relief center.

Ridgeway has spent the last four weeks volunteering with her new friends after the April 28 tornado.

The center is closing today, so many of the volunteers are returning to their homes in other counties and states.

“It’s hard to say goodbye,” Ridgeway said. “But every day we have less families coming to us for help.”

Relief centers are beginning to close or set dates for closing, and they’re seeking places to send donated items.

Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian service and relief organization, left western Limestone County on Wednesday.

Wayne Shoemaker, of the North Carolina-based organization, said the number of work orders dropped to one or two a day. The group leaves a disaster area when it becomes difficult to sustain consistent work for out-of-town volunteers, he said.

Samaritan’s Purse has been organizing volunteers through the United Way of Limestone County. Shoemaker said 471 volunteers have filled 133 work orders and put in 5,900 volunteer hours since his group arrived May 3.

Work continues in the area with mostly volunteers who live nearby.

Despite closing three disaster relief centers in other parts of the state this week, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said Wednesday no date has been set for closing the Limestone County center on Ripley Road.

The center will be open Monday, although Memorial Day is a federal holiday.

Ridgeway said tornado survivors are receiving FEMA checks, so there is less need for help.

“They’re getting into homes and getting more established,” Ridgeway said.

American Red Cross emergency services manager Shirley Crutcher said her organization is no longer paying for storm victims to stay in local hotels.

“Most are in homes or have made other living arrangements,” Crutcher said.

Story Continues →