In response to the devastating tornadoes that tore through Alabama April 27, 2011, Auburn University, the University of Alabama, and Habitat for Humanity teamed up to work on a building project that aided in Tuscaloosa's tornado recovery efforts. Auburn had two teams of volunteers working on the project during the week of July 18-22, 2011.

House United 2011

The Experience-Team 1: Days 1-3

Day One

The first day on the build was such a great experience. It has been one thing hearing about the devastation in Tuscaloosa, but actually seeing it was a different story. We went through complete areas that were totally leveled, where once stood many buildings stood just vacant lots. It was heartbreaking. Once we got into town we ate lunch at Morning Star Baptist Church in Holt, AL and then went to the building site where we were greeted by the joyful Habitat team. The rest of the day was spent working on the building the houses. It was great to be hands on and see restoration happening. A roof was being put on one of the houses that was already started by another team last week, and the foundation was being laid for the other house on the habitat project.

Interacting with the University of Alabama students was eye-opening within itself. Being able to hear first hand accounts of the what happened the day of the tornado is something we will never forget. We are glad to come together, and see this effort take off. We cannot wait to see what the rest of the week unveils.

Day Two

An early morning start today took us straight to the University of Alabama's Baptist Campus Ministries, whom supplied us with an incredible home-cooked breakfast! We are so thankful for all the donors for the wonderful meals we are having. After breakfast we headed straight to the site for another full day of work. Today was spent on many various jobs such as painting siding, constructing doors and walls, and finishing some roofing, among many others.

Today, Taylor, a graduate assistant to the Office of Public Service, was able to talk to some of the homeowners of the house we are building. It was very humbling and eye-opening to hear the first hand account of the mother's point of view from the day of the tornado. Not only is she a mother, she is a mother of ten. They do not all live at home, but the two youngest do. She recounts hearing the tornado coming, which she describes sounding like a train, and running with her husband and two youngest kids into the utilities closet, which her husband had to shut with both arms due to the strength of the winds. While they were in the closet, she said she could hear the walls around the closet falling. In addition to the other walls falling, she said the only thing holding up the walls of the closet they were in were her husband and her son. Walking out and seeing her house devastated is something she said she will never forget. However, over-arching all of these circumstances, she is glad that her family is alive and well. She is grateful for each day, and she describes it as you "got to get up and just keep going". Her positive attitude has definitely helped her get through these hard times.

Tonight we will be eating dinner at the Alabama Recreation Center pool, which will be catered by Moe's Barbeque. We are having such a great time!

Day Three

Team 1 final day was today, and a great day it was. Walls went up on the house! It was so exciting to be a part of building the walls and actually putting them up in the house. That's the moment that it all hit home for a lot of us. We are helping someone actually have a place to live. The reality of it was so rewarding. The in's and out's of the day to day in the beginning of house building is strenuous and tedious work. It can be very tiring and one might lose sight of the end goal. However, seeing those walls go up definitely gave us the boost we all needed.

At lunch, Team 2 arrived with a full load and eagerness to get to work! It is going to be great to have fresh hands on the site. Team 1 returned to Auburn safely, and with hearts full of what they witnessed from the beginning of the week. We just know Team 2 will providing the same sort of stories.

Photos

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News Coverage

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A news story done by the Birmingham News.


A House United | Joint build between Auburn University, Habitat for Humanity and the University of Alabama

Last Updated: November 11, 2013