Community bands together in midst of tragedy: Elderly couple helped after Moore, Oklahoma tornado

MOORE, Okla. - In the days following one of the worst disasters in Oklahoma history, volunteers from near and far have milled throughout the 17-mile stretch of tornado-wrought Moore.

Thousands of able-bodied men and women have found their way to the ravaged suburban city in hopes of offering a hurting community what little bit of consolation they can.

Seventy-one-year-old Ron Gerard and his wife, Peggy Jean, were among those to receive help since the EF-5 twister tore through Moore.

VIDEOS: Tornado tears through Moore area at 200 mph 

Gerard, a man now hard of hearing and a survivor of prostate cancer and four heart surgeries, huddled alongside his wife and two Miniature Pinschers, Hahn and Gretchen, in the home's laundry room Monday as the storm approached. The compact room, built windowless, was one of only two rooms to suffer minimal external damage. The rest experienced blown out windows and caved-in ceilings.

They were two of the lucky ones -- just a few blocks over lines of homes now pose as rubble and debris.

PHOTOS: Moore tornado destruction, recovery

But help was still needed; and it still came. The next day, when longtime neighbor Larry Brake found out water was pouring into Ron and Peggy's home, he and several church members went to work covering the roof.

Brake, whose house also impacted by the tornado, said it was an easy decision. "We just look after each other here," he said.

MORE: How to help 

The couple was next visited by Burggraf Disaster Restoration, a Tulsa business that specializes in natural disaster assistance. Company workers quickly set up a generator so Gerard and his niece, Nancy Newman, could sort the family's possessions.

The company will likely have consistent work in Moore for more than a year, but, like so many in the area, could be seen going door-to-door Friday, offering to lend a hand to those in need.

Burggraf worker Bill Shouse said he and his team have tarped at least 15 roofs since they arrived, at no cost, along with providing generators and packing and drying belongings.

"It's the right thing to do," Shouse said. "We're doing everything we possibly can to get them back to a bit of normalcy."

Gerard expects to find out Saturday whether his home will be totaled, a key factor in the couple's decision to stay or leave the neighborhood they've called home for 38 years.

For comprehensive coverage of Oklahoma's recent tornadoes, go to

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