- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2002

La PLATA, Md. (AP) Hundreds of volunteers helped clean up debris over the weekend after last week's devastating tornado in Southern Maryland.
Nina Voehl, a spokeswoman for Charles County, said volunteers contributed an estimated 7,200 hours of assistance as of Sunday.
The volunteer work continued yesterday.
"It's been tremendous because there's been quite an outpouring of requests from effected residents to help clean the huge amount of debris," Miss Voehl said.
More than 100 families were displaced in Charles County because of damage to homes.
A disaster field office was set up in Waldorf on Sunday for workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Maryland Emergency Management agency.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Edward M. Voorhaar of La Plata United Methodist Church gave a service on Sunday at a local high school instead of his damaged church.
After the service, most of the several hundred in the audience drove in a caravan to the church property and gathered for prayer in the parking lot, strewn with rubble and broken glass.
Volunteers came to the tornado-devastated town of La Plata by the 10s and 20s: Boy Scouts, bikers, Amish farmers even a crew of the Washington Redskins maintenance workers. More than 500 volunteers came from as far as Pennsylvania to help victims on Saturday. On Sunday, more than 400 volunteers helped, Miss Voehl said.
Saturday marked the first weekend day since the F5-magnitude tornado devastated the Southern Maryland town, killing five persons. It also marked Charles County's first organized effort to clean up the area.
"They're coming in by the busload," said Charles County Commissioner W. Daniel Mayer. "It's phenomenal."
The volunteers were rounded up and split into teams on the fairgrounds three miles south of La Plata. Some had maps and gloves. Others carried chain saws.
"I need 10 people here right now," said volunteer effort coordinator Ty Fuqua, using his cell phone to point around the area. "I need one more saw operator. I need a bus here and a bus here."
One of Mr. Fuqua's key crews was the Redskins maintenance workers. The tough-looking group, equipped with chain saws and raw muscle power, was sent to the Quailwood subdivision of La Plata.
The first task? Pulling a large pine tree off the roof of a demolished brick house.
"These people need help, and that's what we're here to do," said Tim Lynch, the crew's supervisor.
Even a volunteer team of children was dispatched for the La Plata cleanup effort. But it wasn't long before someone got hurt.
Maddy Shaffer, 10, got her finger pinched between two logs. After a little soap and a Band-Aid, she raced back to work.
"This is terrific, I tell you what," said homeowner Charles Bass, 73. "You've got to give them a hug for what they're doing."


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