A group of about 30 Clemson students are currently in Alabama to help clean up damage from tornadoes that struck the state last month.
Nancy Thomas, a senior biological sciences major from Beaufort, is among them. She says the amount of damage is pretty unbelievable.
You don’t actually think that a tornado can cause such great devastation. Just being here now, I’m really glad that we came. It looks a lot worse in person. The TV doesn’t show nearly how much damage as there actually is.
The students are helping clean up a Birmingham neighborhood that was hit by the storm. Thousands of homes were damaged by a storm that killed more than 300 people when it tore across the Southeast in late April. The same system caused some minor damage in South Carolina, as well.
Thomas is the president of Clemson’s Alternative Break program; a service group that helped organize the trip with the school’s Gantt Center for Student Life. 34 people volunteered– mostly students, but a few adults as well. The group picked Birmingham to do their mission work because it was one of the few places where they could find housing.
Dawson Baptist Church has agreed to host the students while they’re in the area.
The group spent Monday repairing a house that was effectively broken into three different pieces by the storm. Thomas says seeing the disaster in person brings out a lot of emotions, as there are people that have lost everything and have nowhere to go.
It’s breathtaking. You start to feel really bad for the families that lived in these houses. It’s kind of shocking. There’s really no words for it.
The group will also spend Tuesday in Birmingham before heading back on Wednesday.
Thomas says help is needed for some families to meet the cleanup deadlines. A person’s debris will only be picked up by the city before a certain date or else that person will have to take it to a dump themselves.
Thomas says the people of Alabama still need a lot of help.
Just know that anything makes a huge difference. Whether you’re sending money or you’re actually going to come over here and help the families. They’re all really appreciative… just to know there are others (there) for them.
The students are working with the Birmingham Dream Center this week.