Central Texans lending a hand to East Texas tornado victims

Posted at 2:22 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 19:00:12-04

People across Central Texas are stepping up to collect donations and volunteer their time to help those affected by the devastating tornado in East Texas.

Twisted Oak Grille in Lampasas is collecting donations until Friday at 5 p.m. for the tornado victims.

"It's not just someone's home. It's the material things there's memories, there's livelihood," Melonie McCoy, General Manager of Twisted Oak Grille said. "That's not something someone can bring and donate. So what you can do to help ease that a little bit, it's the least we can do."

Christie Boles, who has volunteered for disaster relief for five years, will be taking the donations to Canton on Saturday. They are looking for cleaning supplies, baby wipes, diapers, battery-powered flashlights and other items to help rebuild homes. Click here to find out what supplies they need. 

Two Lampasas police officers drove to Van Zandt County, TX, on their day off to help those affected on Tuesday.

Sgt. Steven Sheldon and Officer Andy McCatherine left early Tuesday morning to volunteer in East Texas. The two were assigned an area in Van Zandt County to do security to make sure looters were not getting on properties that were destroyed by the deadly tornado.

"It's sad to see people's lives are just totally wiped out in seconds, mere seconds and gone," Sgt. Sheldon said. "Standing there in front of it, it's like oh my goodness, the big big trees in East Texas, you can't wrap your arms around it. Some of them bent, snapped like matchsticks or toothpicks."

Both officers said the devastation was indescribable.

"It's like nothing I've ever seen in my life. You can look at pictures all day but it does nothing compared to what you see when you're actually out there," McCatherine said. "It's incredible the amount of damage the tornado did to houses and buildings and just simple things like trees and fences."

Sheldon and McCatherine spoke to several East Texans who lost their homes, including fellow police officers. 

"Somebody who was in law enforcement actually came to us shook our hands as we drove by and said you know normally I would be in your seat doing what you're doing for us. And it kind of touched our hearts," Sheldon said. "He said 'but I can't do that right now. I have to pick up pieces.' And I told him that's why we're here so you can fix your family and help out. I said we're here for you."

They said the devastation is so massive, East Texas needs more help. 

"They still need help out there, whether it's law enforcement or anybody they still need help," Sheldon said.

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