TULSA, Okla. — Oklahomans are pitching in to help as communities work to recover from Friday night's deadly tornado.
“It's mind-blowing and heartbreaking to see just the utter and complete destruction," said Lisa Saylor.
Saylor is from Claremore and is the director of disaster relief for Mercy Chefs. She's currently in Mayfield, Kentucky, which is one of the hardest-hit areas from the tornado.
“The first day we were here I don’t think we saw a single soul who didn’t just look in shock," Saylor said.
Mercy Chefs brings mobile kitchens to feed residents and first responders in areas hit by a disaster, like Mayfield.
Saylor said, while this brings back memories of helping after the Moore and Joplin tornadoes, she’s never seen anything like this destruction before.
“For the last few days it’s been a pretty overwhelming situation," Saylor said. "I am a seasoned disaster relief worker, nine years in the field. I have not seen the kind of destruction that I’ve just looked at maybe ever in one spot, so concentrated like that.”
Other Oklahomans are also finding ways to help out.
While Michael Ellegood now lives in Haskell, just south of Coweta, he grew up in Mayfield and Dresden, Tennessee, another area hit by the tornado.
“It’s one of those communities and towns that if you’re there, you know everybody," he said.
He said his immediate family is okay, but there’s still a lot to worry about.
“Basically just worrying and hoping and praying that it didn’t hit you directly," Ellegood said. "And now it’s just family and other friends that you knew and you grew up with that are, some are still missing.”
After seeing the aftermath of the tornado, Ellegood started asking for donations through Facebook to take back home. He's requesting items like clothes and bottled water.
What he thought would just be a little help, turned into more than he imagined. So far, he's filled his truck bed up multiple times with items.
“I was already going back home and I just didn’t want to go back home empty-handed to nothing, to be honest with you," Ellegood said. "Because the route that I travel I’ve seen videos and there’s not a building standing anymore.”
No strangers to tornadoes themselves, Green Country residents are giving back to those who need it most.
“My goal here is to just keep spreading Oklahoma love," Saylor said.
Ellegood leaves for Kentucky and Tennessee on Thursday. He's collecting donations through Wednesday. You can drop them off at Bent Rod Customs in Broken Arrow.
You can learn more about and donate to Mercy Chefs here.
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