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Residents focus on tornado cleanup efforts
Volunteers to cut up fallen trees and offer victims food and water
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Donate

Red Cross: Call 770-532-8453 or visit www.negaredcross.org

Salvation Army: Call 1-800-SAL-ARMY, visit www.salvationarmy.org or text "GIVE" to 80888 for a $10 donation

North Georgia Community Foundation: Mail a check to 615 F Oak St., Suite 1300, Gainesville, GA 30501, or visit www.ngcf.org

Ringgold High School: Donate cash or supplies during car washes put on by the Flowery Branch High School National Honor Society.

They'll be held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 24-25 in the school's parking lot down from the cafeteria outside of the large gym.

Floyd County victims: Gainesville First United Methodist is accepting items requested by those in Floyd County in northwest Georgia: deodorant, soap, razors, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sunscreen, female hygiene products, diapers, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, towels, washcloths, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, gloves, storage bins, sports drinks and water.

Leave donated items in the collection areas in the Gathering Room, the entrance to the Methodist Activity Center or in the hallway behind the sanctuary.

Checks also are accepted with "tornado relief" in the memo line.

On Friday evening, Gainesville City Council member George Wangemann and 20 of his fellow church members headed from Gainesville to Alabama to help victims of the recent tornadoes.

"Mainly, we'll be cutting up trees that have fallen and carrying logs to the curb," he said. "Every time there's a disaster like this, our church is very organized, and we get out thousands to help with disasters."

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Wangemann helped with efforts in southern Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, Miami after Hurricane Andrew and Acworth after severe floods.

"We tend to get it done in a pretty fast time because we have great numbers we can send to the disaster area," he said. "We'll have crews in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Ringgold and Rabun County this weekend."

The Gainesville church works with others around the state to stay prepared. Wangemann's group rolled out with tractor-trailers loaded with chain saws, generators, bottled water and food.

"It's fun to work with people you know and have worked with before, and there's a certain camaraderie that exists when you help in these disaster areas," Wangemann said. "You also make new friends in these locations."

When the storms hit, Gainesville and Hall County public safety groups also sent help to get the recovery process started.

"It's pretty amazing to see the devastation and destruction and ask yourself where to start," said Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada, who served for five days as part of an instant management team in Rabun County.

"You sit down and start making a list of the greatest and immediate needs," he said. "You do that one step and one area at a time and check them off as you go."

The team, which included 11 Gainesville firefighters and personnel from nine different counties, worked with several state agencies to clear roads and search all buildings.

Four Gainesville Police Department officers secured the boat ramps around Lake Burton as rescue crews maneuvered the area.

"The group was there to help the residents get back on their feet, get their arms around the incident and manage the resources as they go forward in the next few days, months and even years," Canada said.

"I can't say enough about the local community and how they were willing to be there and get involved There's a lot of work ahead, but I'm confident they can handle it."

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