Aggies Spend Spring Break Rebuilding Tornado Ravaged Joplin, Missouri

By: Shane McAuliffe Email
By: Shane McAuliffe Email

One of Texas A&M University's core values is selfless service, and right now a group consisting of 94 Aggies is providing that in Joplin, Missouri a town destroyed by an EF5 tornado in May of last year.

It's only been 10 months since the single deadliest tornado in U.S. history hit the town, but efforts to get Joplin back on its feet are underway with those Aggies lending a helping hand.

Everywhere you look in Joplin you see people working.

Working on getting this town of 50,000 back to a sense of normalcy, despite still having a huge scar in the middle of its heart.

"Our hospital is gone, all the doctors' offices are gone, my store is gone. There is so much devastation still," said resident Doreen Posten.

Posten has lived in Joplin her whole life and this is the first time she's had Texans in her modest Missouri home.

These Aggies are just a small part of a huge group spending their spring break in the show me state, showing some love.

"To see so many people come and volunteer, it's just amazing. That people would give up their life," said Posten, trying to hold back tears.

"Everyday I'm completely and totally amazed by people and their generosity," said Dorothy Maples with AmeriCorps.

The Aggies volunteering on the Aggie Greek service trip are under the orders of corps commander Dorothy Maples. AmeriCorps that is.

"This is a total 360 from where we've come from. It is amazing that we're still doing demolitions, we're still cleaning up, we still definitely need the help," said Maples.

Maples is a Joplin native and she still has a hard time dealing with damage.

"I get lost in a place that I was born and raised in and it's not a big town to begin with," said Maples.

"Not even rebuilding, still just cleaning up debris. But we're going to go where the help is needed," said Aggie Alumni Logan Campbell.

Campbell founded the service trip back in 2008 and still finds time to help out despite graduating from Texas A&M two years ago.

"It's still important to me to come back during spring break and show my support for this group," said Campbell.

And this trip has a profound effect on the students who take it.

"It's a disaster zone. Everywhere you look, you can see how it tore this community apart," said A&M senior Alexa Armstrong.

But these Aggies who dedicated themselves to a selfless service are bringing the community of Joplin back together and feeding its need for hope.

"That's why they say, stay strong Joplin," said Posten.

Now this is the fifth and final day for the Aggies to be here in Joplin and they'll return home to College Station on Wednesday.

During their time here in Missouri, the students and other volunteers have cleared out 300 acres of debris and have left a lot of locals with a great feeling.

The hours the Aggie Greek Service trip puts in while in Missouri doesn't just help the city itself, it also helps with the bill.

Every hour of volunteer works reduces the city debt to FEMA for help in the aftermath of the tornado.

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