Originally created 05/17/98

Volunteers work to help victims



EDGEFIELD, S.C. -- As Karen Doying explains it, she didn't need to force her two children to help clean up after the May 7 tornadoes.

Mrs. Doying, a BellSouth employee who lives in North Augusta, said when her family found out one of the destroyed homes belonged to a family friend, tears gathered in her children's eyes.

The whole family turned out Saturday to help other BellSouth employees clean up the remains of the home belonging to their co-worker Mike Ryles. Like the other 20-plus people at the site of the Ryles home, they hauled the remains to a street-side pile of drywall, insulation, house supports, wiring and even a kitchen sink.

"When they saw it was Mike, the just about cried," Mrs. Doying said of her 17-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter.

Then her daughter Dorothy interrupted her water break and asked for a Band-Aid.

Volunteers gathered early in the morning at the Merriwether Fire Department and Sweetwater Baptist Church before mobilizing for a day of cleanup in the 90-degree heat.. They concentrated on Garret Road and neighborhoods off Moore Road, two areas hard hit by the storms.

The goal was to carry the debris from where the tornadoes threw it to the roadside where county backhoes and bulldozers could load it into dump trucks. Even though more than a week has passed since the tornadoes hit, there was still plenty of debris to pick up.

Stan Crouch, a truck driver for the Edgefield County Roads Department, has been working every day since the tornadoes hit, and Saturday was no exception.

"The weather has really helped out a lot, now that we've got some clear days," he said.

Gene Huiet, a member of the Edgefield Fire Department, worked across the street picking up the remains of the home of Pam Hart, the only person killed in the tornadoes. She was crushed when a tornado lifted her home from the lot next to the Ryles house and dropped it on the other side of the street. The fire department had to cut apart the metal frame of the manufactured house before volunteers could begin to haul it away.

Clean up will continue today and volunteers are still needed, Mr. Huiet said as beads of sweat ran down his nose.

"We'll take anybody anytime," he said.