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Okla. recovering one month after deadly Moore tornado

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MOORE, Okla. - Thursday, June 20, marked one month since the massive EF-5 tornado tore through Moore.

The twister began in the City of Newcastle and quickly spawned into a deadly monster; headed straight for the City of Moore.

In the frantic minutes that followed, it was chaos as loved ones dug through rubble and destruction; desperate to find their loved ones.

We soon learned just how widespread that damage was.

Hundreds of homes damaged were in that area including two elementary schools that took a direct hit.

Although many areas are still heavily damaged, hope continues to grow in different forms.

As the debris piles continue to shrink, the memorials are growing significantly.

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The memorial in front of one of the hardest hit areas, Plaza Towers Elementary, is covered with stuffed animals, positive messages and hope and the nationwide support is stronger than ever.

"We've come a long way but we still have a lot of work to do but you can see the progress made every day," volunteer Danny Hardy said.

Hardy came from northwest Alabama exactly one month ago with a team of volunteers.

For the past 30 days, they have been removing debris from damaged areas.

As debris is dwindling, he said he has noticed memorials popping up across town.

Tornadoes hit his home state two years ago, which allows his team to relate to storm survivors in Moore.

"Well they get to a point where they don't know what to do next so we come in, do our little part and give them a helping hand," Hardy said.

Lucas Sjaarda came from Michigan with a team of 30 people from his church to help in the cleanup.

"I can't believe it, if this was my home, I wouldn't know what to do," Sjaarda said.

He said when he heads home Friday, he has faith the volunteer efforts will continue.

"Just hoping other people are helping each other out over here too," Sjaarda said.

Hardy said he has a similar hope for the community of Moore.

"That they just get stronger, you know what I mean, and that’s all you can do," Hardy said.

Both the Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary schools will be re-built in the same locations they once stood; a sign the community is rebuilding, recovering and rising from this devastation.

The American Red Cross continues relief efforts in Oklahoma and has received more than $26 million in donations and pledges for its response to the tornadoes.

FEMA has also approved more than $8 million for individuals in need and so far more than 11,000 storm victims have applied for financial assistance.