Volunteers collect donations, clean up debris left from tornado

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CAPE CORAL, Fla.- More than 500 volunteers extended a helping hand on Thursday to victims of the tornado that touched down in Cape Coral and left behind roughly $6 million in damage.

The volunteers began setting up around 9 a.m. near Agualinda Boulevard and Beach Parkway. The event started as a small Facebook group to help clean up the area ravaged by the tornado, and a donation effort quickly grew.

Volunteers sorted through clothes, food and other items to help those in need. They say the outpouring of support from the community has been incredible.

“My damage was very minimal compared to what, what really caught my eye was this gentleman with the boat,” said AJ Ronyak, “and I might get a little emotional, but it is what it is, and I’m just giving back to the community here.”

The volunteers also went from house to house, clearing debris still left behind.

“Being in Southwest Florida for almost 30 years, going to school in this area, seeing he devastation, I figure everybody can help out, the more hands the better,” said Christopher Parladi.

“This is an amazing thing when this many people respond this quickly,” said Rob Iafrate.

For affected homeowner Bob Beattie, the response from the community is overwhelming.

“Between the volunteers I’ve seen on the streets and the different organizations that are donating up on Agualinda and Beach, it’s amazing it really is,” said Beattie.

“I knew there’d be a good response cause the Cape is fabulous, but this is beyond what I would have expected, it’s really wonderful,” said Karin Evans.

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