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Mar 7, 2012 8:26 PM by Herbie Smith

Tornado relief volunteers say they're returning the favor

Since last Saturday volunteers across Acadiana have been collecting tornado relief items for tornado victims in Harrisburg, Illinois.
Volunteers say they are eager to help because of the help they received in 2005 after Hurricane Rita. Tammy Landry organized the drive. She says she's returning the favor. "I didn't think twice when they asked if I wanted to help. I said yes because it comes from my heart," said Landry.

Landry says a group called "River Fest" traveled from Illinois to their rescue during Hurricane Rita. "They brought food, water, clothing, they helped clean up and they helped rebuild some of the homes."

Knowing first-hand what it's like to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters, she understands every bit of help counts. She'll never forget coming home after Rita. "It was a lot of debris everywhere, a lot of people didn't know where to go, we lost the inside part of our house."

Richard Pharr from St. Martinville also volunteered. He collected items for the drive. Pharr says he also remembers Rita's devastation. "The water was almost neck deep. That was in Erath," said Pharr.

Although Acadiana and Lake Charles are hundreds of miles away from Illinois, Pharr and Landry call Harrisburg a sister-city. "Friends pick you up, give you food, steer you in the right direction, give you clothes and help you get back on your feet. That's what we're trying to do, be friends," said Pharr.

Wednesday was the deadline to drop off items at locations in Lake Charles, Duson and St. Martinville. Firefighters in Lake Charles are still accepting donations. Food, water, baby supplies and pet food are greatly needed!

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