By Mark Getzfred
Independent Staff Writer
As Grand Island residents begin digging out, they're receiving assistance from volunteers both from Grand Island and surrounding areas.
Volunteers, organized and at the drop of a hat, have poured in helping everywhere the past two days.
"We had five guys come up and cut down those two trees," said Chet Johnson of McCook. He was helping Lillian Pearson, 944 S. Oak, clean her yard.
Johnson said he never did learn the people's names. They pulled up, helped move the trees and drove away.
Pearson's neighbor received similar help. A farmer from Wood River and one from north of Grand Island were helping him remove trees and what remained of his garage.
"I can't believe how everyone has helped out the way they have," said Wayne Tagge, 936 S. Kimball. "I've had the best help anyone could ask for.
"You couldn't ask for any better people than the people in Grand Island," Tagge said.
Most volunteers are being sent to Central Catholic High School, 1200 W. Ruby, where they are assigned to areas for cleanup.
L.T. Nitz of the Civil Air Patrol said three areas have been set up to coordinate volunteers.
Harold Brissey, Civil Defense coordinator for the Nebraska Civil Air Patrol, said CAP will have between 150 and 200 volunteers in Grand Island during the cleanup. CAP volunteers are being used for communication purposes.
Between 35 and 40 CAP volunteers are on duty at one time, he said.
Terry Marshall, Hastings/Adams County Civil Defense director, said "A lot of this stuff (clean up) just has to be done by manpower."
Marshall, who has been coordinating volunteers, said people who want to be sightseers shouldn't volunteer to clean up.
"You can see all the destruction you want in a week," Marshall said. But Marshall added that volunteers looking to work hard are needed.
"We need them badly. They fulfill a super vital function," he said. He said volunteers should be patient with officials trying to assign them because it's going to take some time.
Marshall said work crews are assigned more quickly when a group of five or six organize themselves with a truck and possibly a chainsaw. Officials then can simply send them to a clean-up site without worrying about putting them into teams.
"I've seen beaten victims but I haven't seen anyone angry at volunteers. The volunteers have been just super helpful and understanding," Marshall said. Counting the volunteers is impossible, he said, but they have been on the scene since early Wednesday morning.
Terry Masten, whose father Bud operated Dad's Liquor Drive Inn at 1404 S. Locust, said volunteers from Minden have been helping pick up and destroy liquor bottles.
The alcohol must be destroyed under state and federal statues.
"We would never have gotten all this done," he said of the clean up.
"We got all the help we really need," said Ervie Larsen, 4192 E. Dodge St. The Larsen's help came in the form of friends and relatives.
Tornado victims still living in the homes have been offering them meals and other necessities, according to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
"For as awful as it is, the help has been just marvelous," said Lois Hoover, 311 E. Dodge St. "Even neighbors that were practically wiped out were going around to see if they could help.
"It (volunteer help) has been the most wonderful thing. I just can't hardly believe it," she said.
The Hoovers were helped by Union Pacific Railroad workers who picked up trees and helped repair their home. Warren Hoover is a UP Employee.
"They were here just shortly after eight this morning and worked their tails off," Hoover said.
Larry Carmann, 822 Pleasant Drive, was helped by fellow teachers.
"I had fantastic help and it all has been fellow staff from my junior high school where I teach, " said Carmann, an instructor at Barr Junior High School. "I didn't call any of them."
Thousands of people will go unthanked for their efforts after the disaster.
Tagge, however, seemed to sum up the feelings of the community.
"We all safe and we're happy we're here."