Tulsa firefighters lend a hand in Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. - It's day five of clean up in Joplin after the deadly tornado flattened hundreds of homes and businesses Sunday evening.

Tulsa firefighters are lending a helping hand--spending their days off picking up pieces of people's lives.

"Everyone's saying it looks like a bomb went off. It honestly does," said Rena Nickerson, who drove to Joplin from Springfield to see her family.

She's salvaging all she can from her aunt and uncle's home, left devastated by the tornado.

"The worst part was not knowing," she said. "The cell phones were gone, you couldn't get through. Fortunately in 45 minutes to an hour, we received a text that they were all safe. It's horrible, horrible. And you're helpless."

She's not alone. More than a dozen Tulsa firefighters cleared the yard of debris on Friday, looking for anything they could save.

"It's great, it's great. When they pulled up, they just introduced themselves, and said, 'we're here to help, whatever you need,'" Nickerson said.

Tulsa firefighter Tim Ingram lives just across the state line in Oklahoma. He says when he saw how bad Joplin was hit, he had to help.

"There's been no shortage of people who want to come up here and help. As firefighters, that's kind of the way we're wired. When something happens, we want to be here and help," he said.

Ingram says he volunteered in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, and the destruction he's seen in Joplin is worse.

"I've known Joplin my whole life. I can drive around and not recognize where I'm at. Because everything's gone," he said.

Their help, and the help of hundreds of other volunteers, is keeping hope alive.

"We're here to maybe give them some piece of mind, and do something they're not going to do for themselves. Because right now, people are still in shock, and that's understandable," Ingram said.

Nickerson says her family will rebuild. But right now, that's not what's important.

"They're great people, I love them, and I'm just so thankful they're alive," she said.
 

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