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Volunteer organizations aid in debris removal following ice storm



Following last month's record ice storm, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, an umbrella organization that draws together various volunteer programs, had sent out chain-saw teams to begin cutting and clearing debris from the homes of the elderly, disabled and single parents.

"This is wonderful," said Midwest City resident Louise Frank of the team. "I'm 76 years old; I can't get out here and do this. This is great " I'm so appreciative."

NVOAD also includes:
" the American Red Cross,
" Salvation Army and
" other organizations, both religious and secular.

Karen Distefano, the United Methodist Oklahoma Volunteers in Mission coordinator of disaster response, said NVOAD was set up as a way to simplify volunteer response to disasters. It prevents redundancies and allows victims to present their case to one organization rather than several.

The Methodists were just one of the denominations working together in response to the storm.

"Right now, the Southern Baptists are heavily involved," Distefano said. "The Mennonites also have teams on the ground ready to help. After big disasters like tornadoes and fires, they help rebuild. Catholic charities are involved especially in case management, which is for people who need additional help."

The crews only work where their help has been officially requested. The homeowner must be there to oversee the work to alleviate liability and keep the volunteers from getting overwhelmed.

"We'll do one job, and people will come out from around the neighborhood and ask us to check out their situation, but we can only work on what we've been asked to do," said Dan Patman, team member and associate pastor of Ardmore's First United Methodist Church. "Charles Martin

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