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Vilonia Victims Find Strength from Volunteers

VILONIA, AR -- County and city leaders vowed to organize the recovery effort to make sure all Storm victims get the help they need.
VILONIA, AR -- County and city leaders vowed to organize the recovery effort to make sure all Storm victims get the help they need.

KARK's reporter, Britney Johnson, spoke to leaders about the critical next steps.

They want survivors and supporters to be on the lookout for a more formal process for volunteering. Also, a more formal process for making and storing donations.

This is really important in Vilonia where the cleanup effort is picking up with more and more volunteers hitting the streets.

Johnson also spoke with survivors who are finding strength from the help of strangers.

13 year old Elizabeth Bradley was playing her piano or what's left of her piano, in what used to be her house on Cemetery Drive in Vilonia.

"It sounded like a tree being ripped out of the ground," explained Bradley.

She was hiding inside when a tornado swept her home and nine others off its foundation.

"When I got out I was like woah! It didn't even look like my neighborhood anymore."

Bradley made it out with a scratch.

"It really wasn't me it was mainly God," added Bradley.

Neighbors, family and friends lost much more.

Travis Lavergne lost his parents in Sunday night's tornado.

"My neighbors told me and my brother they came out of the storm shelter and they found my parents," said Travis Lavergne.

"They were parents everyone wants to have you know. They were always there for you," added Lavergne.

"It's different from here on out, things will never be the same... The street will never be the same," explained Lavergne.

Now the families who are used to cooking and playing games together are leaning on one another more than ever.

"They're not really neighbors they're family," said Lavergne.

They're getting help from strangers, like students helping from Harding and a softball team from Nebraska.

Greg and Melissa Bradley came back to where their home used to be, to discover it was swept away in the tornado.

"There were people already here. They were like is this your house? and they were like we've been here for hours," explained Melissa Bradley from Vilonia.

They were all pitching in and sorting through the wreckage.

"It's a huge blessing. It doesn't look like it but it's one blessing after another," said Greg Bradley, Melissa's husband.

With the help of volunteers, these families can begin the process of moving on.

"It's amazing how you don't know anybody but yet they're still here for you," added Greg Bradley.

The Bradley family plans to rebuild, next time with a storm shelter.

As for all of the storm debris, the city of Vilonia is filled with smoke as people start separating the debris into piles and clearing what they can.

They have to cleanup before they can rebuild.

County leaders want them to adhere to rules of disposing debris has also remember to follow Fema guidelines so they will still be eligible for relief funds.
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