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Volunteers helping with tornado cleanup make big impact

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KITSAP COUNTY, Wash. -- It’s been more than two and a half weeks since a tornado caused significant damage at Melody Village in Port Orchard.

Neighbors are still digging out from under trees and debris.

Volunteers have been making a big impact in helping homeowners get back on their feet.

“Just the devastation,” said Nancy Williams who is an account executive in the pro service department at Lowes. “We wanted to help.”

Skip Olmsted and his wife have called Melody Village home for 46 years until Mother Nature came twisting through.

“The whole house is totaled, the garage is totaled and our motor-home is totaled,” said Olmsted.

The couple lost nearly everything after the Dec. 18 tornado damaged the neighborhood.

But it’s been support from the community that’s helped turn things around.

“Taking limbs, metal, we’re getting all the garbage that’s in and around the properties,” said Williams.

All the debris being gathered and loaded into trucks by the 40 volunteers from Lowes.

“When there’s a crisis like this and people come out and do this for this for people on their time it’s really overwhelming,” said Cheryl Rushton whose home was damaged by the tornado.

And it’s making a difference for neighbors who two weeks ago had nowhere to turn.

“There’s damage you wouldn’t imagine out here and yes people are thinking positively and taking steps to come to their own happy healthy lives,” said Charlotte Garrido, a Kitsap County Commissioner.

It’s especially evident for Olmsted who has been down a difficult road before.

“We lost our son to an accident in 1997,” said Olmsted. “While this is bigger, it’s much less important.”

Even after a dangerous tornado every single neighbor still has their family and one another as they piece their lives back together.

“It’s major, but it’s not life threatening,” said Olmsted.

Damage estimates so far still fall short of the $10 million needed to trigger federal disaster aid.

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