Despite most of the campus community being on vacation for spring break, dozens of Tennessee Tech University volunteers rallied together to help Cookeville residents piece their lives back together after last week’s tornados.
Students, faculty and staff loaded into vans and cars on campus, bringing work gloves, trash bags and equipment to help clear the debris left by the category EF2 tornado that ravaged dozens of homes in a matter of minutes. Volunteers from campus will be helping with the clean up for weeks in Dodson Branch, according to TTU service coordinator Michelle Huddleston.
“This happened seven miles from Tennessee Tech ,and I knew the faculty, staff and students would want to know what we could do to help,” she said. “I’m hoping in the next few weeks we’ll get even more help out here as well as other locations that were hit.”
Donations have come in from those on campus who have been unable to help at the site. A collection box will remain in a hallway in the Roaden University Center until donations are no longer needed.
“I’m from Nashville, and we’ve had tornadoes since, but we had a big storm in ’98,” said TTU senior Shanice Ridley. “That was pretty traumatic; I remember as a child feeling really angry and wondering why the roof of my house was missing. I can only imagine what all these people in Dodson Branch are going through.”
In the hours TTU volunteers spent on one of the farms just over the Jackson County line in Cookeville, students filled many large trash bags with debris, including pieces of roofing, insulation, siding and wood. Faculty and staff spent time with chainsaws, cutting up fallen trees and piling logs and branches for removal.
During that time, Awesome Eagle and TTU cheer and dance coach Robin Burroughs went to Dodson Branch School to help lift local children’s spirits.