A University of Toledo nursing student and three-time veteran of alternative spring break trips, Clement had seen the destruction Hurricane Katrina had brought to the Gulf Coast. As she pulled up to Lake High School, she found the scene unsettlingly familiar.
“You could see the destruction from the road as we drove up,” she said. “There was debris everywhere. It reminded me of the trips we’ve made to Mississippi to help clean up after the hurricane.”
Turning to social media and text messages, Clement rounded up a group of eight students to help clean up the home of a neighbor of one of her friends in Genoa.
“We raked and picked up debris. We looked for valuables or items that could be recovered,” she said. “At the house we were at, the kitchen was in the neighbor’s yard. The bathroom was in another neighbor’s house.”
Clement said the path of the tornado is easy to follow, though why some homes were leveled and others left largely unscathed is not. The deck of the leveled home they worked on was virtually untouched, she said.
A group is planning to go back tomorrow, said Clement, who is planning her help around her continuing nursing clinical education. Other students are planning trips throughout the week. On Sunday, Clement and others are planning to have 100 people travel to Genoa to help clean up.“I’m basically reaching out to everyone I can on Facebook, by e-mail, by text message,” she said. “The people we’ve helped have all been so appreciative. I think I might have been more hesitant in their place, but we’ve been welcomed with open arms.”
Clement said beyond just cleaning up homes for rebuilding, acres of fields remain where tornados have strewn parts of homes and personal items.
“There’s no way I could look at all that has happened and not do anything, just turn around and drive away,” she said. “[Helping is] in my blood.”
Clement said those interested in helping can visit a new Project Help the Tornado Victims Facebook page at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=127136270640435&ref=search.
More information about volunteering or donating to assist the victims of the June 6 storm is available here.