After helping Harvey victims, college students prepare for return to tornado-damaged campus

HOUSTON – As 20 students from Jacksonville State University dedicated their spring break to helping Harvey victims repair their homes, a tornado struck their school Thursday.

The students did not pack up and leave.

“These people have been dealing with this for months and months and we didn't expect this at home,” said Jordan Fitzgerald, a Jacksonville State University student.

They stuck to their mission in Bear Creek, not only repairing the walls of Harvey homes, but tending to the hearts of the homeowners as well.

“We are here renovating houses from the floods back in August to share God’s love that he has shown us coming to this community and convey that to the people who are here,” said Michael Myrick, another Jacksonville State University student.

“We’ve had a lot of stories of people just breaking down because of all the trauma they’ve been through and everything and we just want to be there for them and help them through that,” said David Grant, a crew chief of the group.

Monday night’s tornado ripped bricks and roofs off university buildings at Jacksonville State.

Elizabeth Rains, who lives on the top floor of one dormitory, does not know what's left of her room.

“Everything I own is in Jacksonville,” said Rains. “So it was really, really sad to hear that a place that I love and so dear to my heart is ripped to pieces.”

As they work, the students continue to check in with friends and family.

“My friend's brother said he was stuck in his closet and it was just rattling,” said Jordan Fitzgerald, another student.

Fitzgerald added that her friend’s brother was safe.

Bear Creek homeowners are grateful for the help.

“I didn't expect it and when it came it was just a blessing,” said Randy Alvarez.

“But these people come in and put a huge dent, whereas I didn’t have any walls before, now I’ve got four walls in bedrooms,” said Justin Higgs.

When they get back, the Jacksonville State students already know their next mission -- getting their own campus back on its feet.

“I definitely have a heart for missions so I'm definitely going to help,” said Fitzgerald.