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June 3, 2013

Volunteers find disaster zone triggers March 2, 2012, memories of loss, destruction

NORMAN, Okla. —

A small group of people from Kentucky and Indiana came together to form a relief group after a series of tornados devastated parts of Oklahoma May 19.

The 12-person group, some of whom were victims of the March 2, 2012, tornado in Southern Indiana, named itself Indiana Cares, and in a caravan of five vehicles packed full with relief supplies, departed for Norman, Okla. from Henryville Friday and made the return trip Sunday.

The group had planned to drive the 775-mile journey straight to Noman, nine miles south of heavily damaged Moore, Okla., where it had made contact with a church that was going to delegate its volunteer efforts in the surrounding area.

But, while driving through Carthage, Mo., nearly 255 miles from their destination, fierce storms forced four of the five vehicles to leave the interstate as another set of tornados had begun to touch down in the Moore area about 9 p.m. Friday.

A full-sized van driven by Leroy Swanson, 74, the eldest of the volunteers, of Greensburg, and occupied by Paula Myers, 58, of Vevay, continued into the storm, and would remain separated from their fellow volunteers until the following afternoon.

In Carthage, the group waited outside of a McDonald’s parking lot for the storm to subside, but the 10 remaining volunteers soon found themselves taking refuge in the restaurant’s bathroom with teenage McDonalds employees.

The city’s emergency sirens rang loud as the weather worsened, and black clouds, rain and hail quickly descended on the small Missouri community. It was at this point the volunteers, who had left Indiana to give tornado relief, first thought they may soon be on the other end of relief efforts.

Nearly an hour later the severity of the Carthage storm subsided slightly, and the group, led by Indiana Cares organizers Jennifer McConahay, a stay-at-home Henryville mom, and Jennifer Corkum, of Scottsburg, a college student, pushed on to Norman, still more than three hours away.

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Circuit Court Judge Daniel Moore introduces keynote speaker Loretta Rush, Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court during the Clark Legal Self Help Center Patron and Supporter Luncheon at Cricket�s Caf� in Sellersburg.

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