Oklahoma's Grim Task: Cleaning Up the Cemetery

First Plaza Towers funeral held for girl, 9

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 23, 2013 7:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – The cleanup is under way in Oklahoma, and locals are tackling the bleak task of restoring a cemetery. "We know there are going to have to be some funerals here in the next few days," says a volunteer in Moore. "We don’t want them to come and see this terrible mess." Some 1,000 volunteers were helping in the effort, prompted by notices on social media. Meanwhile, others are cleaning up what remains of their homes, with many erecting American flags, the Washington Post reports. Some aren't sure whether they'll come back to the area. "My first inclination is no," says one woman who's lived in the area 35 years.

Others feel differently. "This is my neighborhood," says Steven McDonald, 36, who's always lived locally. "I’ll rebuild what I can." He's already a hero, having pulled what he estimates to be 50 people from the wreckage of Plaza Towers Elementary School. The first funeral for a student at the school is set for today, honoring Antonia Candelaria, 9. She was discovered holding another student who died, Emily Conatzer, also 9, NBC News reports. All 24 victims of the storm have now been identified, the Post adds. President Obama plans to visit the area Sunday. Click for more on the tornado.

Brittany Brown, left, and her grandmother Tracy Harville tend to Harville's cat, Kitty, after finding it in tornado rubble for two days at Harville's destroyed home, May 22, 2013, in Moore, Okla.
Brittany Brown, left, and her grandmother Tracy Harville tend to Harville's cat, Kitty, after finding it in tornado rubble for two days at Harville's destroyed home, May 22, 2013, in Moore, Okla.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
An unidentified man tosses a board as residents sort through their tornado-ravaged homes Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Moore, Okla.
An unidentified man tosses a board as residents sort through their tornado-ravaged homes Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Moore, Okla.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant walks past tornado-damaged homes with his friend Randy Williams in a neighborhood in Moore, Okla., Wednesday, May 22, 2013.
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant walks past tornado-damaged homes with his friend Randy Williams in a neighborhood in Moore, Okla., Wednesday, May 22, 2013.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Ben Osborne surveys the scene as he sorts through his tornado-ravaged home Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Moore, Okla.
Ben Osborne surveys the scene as he sorts through his tornado-ravaged home Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Moore, Okla.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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