Relief, Volunteers Flood in for Tornado Victims

FEMA teams also assessing damage around North Texas

Assistance is pouring into Lancaster, one of the areas hardest hit by this week's tornadoes.

The Lancaster High School indoor football practice facility has became a mall of support for storm victims. Social agencies have set up to arrange services, and volunteers are handing out donated clothes, toiletries, food and water for people in need.

"All their lives have been scattered and turned upside down," Lancaster Fire Battalion Chief Rob Franklin, a manager of the temporary assistance center.

"They can leave and have services and have an action plan and all their things to take with them to get their lives back in order," he said.

Volunteer Lisa Bacon was a victim of the last Lancaster tornado and was happy to help people this time.

"It hit the front of my home in '94, so this is my second one," she said.

Also Friday, a team of city, county, state and federal officials began a damage assessment in Lancaster and other North Texas.

"We have boots on the ground," said Bob Craine of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. "We have three teams; two of those teams are in Lancaster."

Craine said the assessment would provide information about the number of people displaced, the extent of the damage and insurance coverage.

The assessment could lead to federal disaster aid, but decisions could take time. Donations and charity such as the Lancaster High School assistance center will solve more immediate needs.

Ruby Ongoro visited the assistance center Friday and left with a carload of donated goods. She and her 2-week old child survived the tornado in a bathtub while her roof caved in.

"It is helping me out, because I didn't know where to go," she said.

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