Volunteers needed for cleanup after tornado in Okeechobee County

Posted at 7:30 PM, Apr 11, 2017

Calling all volunteers. Many are needed because of the damage left by a fast and furious tornado last week in Okeechobee County.

There’s still so much to cleanup but there’s not enough help. And heavy lifting is needed, especially anyone with a chainsaw or backhoe.

The sights and sounds of the aftermath of a tornado remain along 358th Street in the Fort Drum Ranchettes area.

“You pull up and you just see debris for 10 acres,” said Rodney Kemple, who called the area home for more than 15 years until he lost almost everything.
“I’m glad i wasn't here,” said Kemple. “I’m glad nobody was here.”
The slow, painful process of trying to cleanup appears endless. Kemple and half a dozen others are sorting through the rubble, hoping to salvage anything they can. 
“If you stay exhausted, you don't think about it,” said Kemple.

Dwan Watson, with the Fort Drum Community Church, added, “We'll take every person we can get.”
The need for volunteers remains great after 115 mile per hour tornado pummeled through on Thursday.

“Some of these people don't have insurance,” explained Watson. “They're disabled they're on a fixed income. They don't have the money to hire contractors to come in and do the work.”

Three homes were destroyed, 17 others were damaged but their spirit is strong.
“I can put 10 to work immediately, I could put 100 to work within just a little while,” explained Watson.
Also along 353rd Boulevard, a 110 foot Eucalyptus tree was uprooted and there are downed trees everywhere. 

To help, head out to the Fort Drum Community Church, 32415 Highway 441 North, Okeechobee County.

The church will be open every day starting at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, call the church at 863-467-1733.

Volunteers must register at the church before heading out to help with cleanup.

A GoFundMeaccount has been created for Rod Kemple.