Local students return from Alabama

A group of local students is home after spending time searching through the hardest hit tornado towns in the southern U.S.

Students with Union College's International Rescue and Relief Program have responded to disasters all over the world and now they're back from Alabama.

The group is always ready to respond to disaster, but even the experienced Union College students say nothing could prepare them for the devastation just states away from home.

Mindy Wenberg says, “We started to see damage as we got closer to Birmingham. Lights, polls down, trees uprooted and knocked down.  When we pulled into Pleasant Grove it was kind of impressive to see.”

The students say they immediately went to work, cleaning up yards, setting up supply stations and searching for missing loved ones and neighbors.  Wenberg says, “We searched some areas that hadn't been searched yet, so I felt like we were helping families and the community feel like that area had been taken care of.”

After five days, the seven students and three faculty members are home.  Team member Brittany Nunez says, “I can relate to somebody being in a disaster wherever they are, however, seeing them in my homeland, seeing the emotional reaction to these people and realizing that we really did help them in an immediate way, that was very good for me to see.”

Up next for the group is some off-site training in Colorado.