Spring Break volunteers continue to help rebuild Tuscaloosa - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Spring Break volunteers continue to help rebuild Tuscaloosa


Even though nearly three years have passed since the storms of April 27, 2011, volunteers are still pouring into Tuscaloosa to help. Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa says they've had dozens of volunteers come from all over the country in just the past few weeks, working over their Spring Breaks. The groups include college students and other adults.

Many of the volunteers are experienced in disaster relief, and know the recovery process continues years after the initial disaster. Maryland volunteer Chuck Hawley has taken nearly 20 disaster relief trips with his Habitat group. He said it can be a year before first responders and professionals have the area ready for volunteers to start building houses. "That's a hard thing for people to understand, that you can't rush right in and start doing stuff," Hawley said.

Hawley's work has included several trips to Tuscaloosa, and he likes to follow up with the Habitat families. "Every time we come back we try to meet up with those families, too, that we've worked on their houses and say, 'Hi.'"

This week, college students from Illinois and Missouri are working in Tuscaloosa. They also say they enjoy getting to know the homeowners who will live in the houses. "Getting to know her, and see how grateful and thankful she was that we were here, helping her...I mean, all we did was paint her shed, but she was so thankful," University of Missouri student Hannah Lager said.

Lager said she's taken a Spring Break vacation before, so she's happy to spend this time working. "I chose to do this trip with all my friends because it's something great to do, and I can spend my time helping others instead of enjoying myself, which I do everyday. I don't get the chance to do this everyday."

The tornado recovery area is not the only place where volunteers are working on Habitat houses. Homes are also under construction in West Tuscaloosa.

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