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Updated: 06/02/2013 4:39 PM
Created: 06/01/2013 6:25 PM KSTP.com | Print |  Email
By: Stephen Tellier

Minn. Volunteers Get to Work After Okla. Tornadoes

Several Minnesotans who are volunteering in Oklahoma had to stop their relief efforts and take cover on Friday night. Their work just got harder.
 
Tom Brustad flew to Oklahoma to help storm victims, but almost became one himself.
 
"It was within a mile of us. So it was kind of eerie," Brustad told KSTP by telephone.
 
That's how close one of Friday night's tornadoes got to him, as he and dozens of others hunkered down in a brick building.
 
They were all OK.
 
Then, at sunrise on Saturday morning, Brustad got his first look at what's left of Moore, Okla.
 
"The destruction, the devastation -- it's just blocks and blocks and blocks," Brustad said.
 
Friday's twisters added to the area's heartbreak.
 
"There's roofs that are off, and a lot of trees down, a lot of power lines down -- that kind of stuff," Brustad said.
 
So Brustad started doing what he came to Oklahoma to do -- help. He's checking on homes, handing out food and water, lending a hand -- and a shoulder.
 
"Just help them to know that there's hope and there's better days coming," Brustad said.
 
And the hope he's trying to instill in storm-ravaged Oklahomans is coming right back to him.
 
"As we're knocking on doors for people, offering to give them pop or whatever, I've probably had about half a dozen people that have went back into their home and came back with cases of water to give to us," Brustad said.
 
"They're just rolling up their sleeves and saying, 'Come on, let's get this done, and we're going to move on.' It's amazing," Brustad said.
 
Brustad also has a message for other Minnesotans who might be thinking about helping storm victims in their own way.
 
"Just know that any little bit that they do, it changes lives," Brustad said.
 
There are also seven Minnesotans with the Red Cross in Oklahoma. They are all OK.
 
They're helping to coordinate the enormous emergency response. Two of them rode out last night's storms in the hallway of a hotel. On Saturday, power was still out at their headquarters, so they've had to move to another location to continue their work.
 
Click here for the entire, extended interview with Tom Brustad.

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