From UU

This is as we turned it in to the Kernel.

By Britney McIntosh and Brad Luttrell

Jackson, Tn- Cars lean sideways against the residence halls and broken glass, pajama pants and muddy teddy bears litter the lawn outside of the dormitory that he used to call home.

Chima Abakwue, a doctorial student at Union University , said he couldn’t believe what had happened to the dorm he used to live in a few years ago.

“Wow. Just looking at the damages,” Abakwue said. “This is something you see on TV.”

Crystal Kinser Bruno, an employee in the Eureka office and a 2007 graduate of Union University, said that it was terribly upsetting for her to watch her alma mater on the news in such a state of disarray.

“I can still pick out things on campus even though everything is a mess,” Bruno said. “I feel so helpless being here, and not knowing what to do. I just want to help out.”

Serious tornadic activity hit Union around 7p.m. yesterday, said David S. Dockery, the president of the University, in a post on the campus emergency blog.

“It was like organized chaos,” said Amanda Brown, an education junior. “We knew what we had to do and did it as calmly as we could, but it was really hard to stay calm.”

“Following a nearly five-hour emergency effort, all students — including the 13 who were trapped in the fallen rubble — were rescued,” Dockery said. “Fifty-one students were taken to the hospital, nine of whom suffered serious injury. By God’s providence, no lives were lost.”

According to Rick Lasher of the National Weather Service, the storm that hit Jackson was a super -cell that began in Tupelo, Mississippi and was also the same super-cell that came across southern Kentucky.

“Super-cells are individual storms that are extremely strong and can have a tornado with them,” Lasher said. “They are the most damaging thunderstorms where the most death and destruction occurs.”

The structural damage turned out to be more severe than it was initially estimated to be last night after the storm passed, said Mark Kahler, associate vice president of university communications.

“The damage was even greater than we thought last night,” Kahler said. “The morning has shed light on things we couldn’t see last night.”

 “About 40 percent of our dorms are beyond repair,” Kahler said.  “About 40 percent are heavily damaged, the other 20 percent have minor damage like broken windows.”

Volunteers from the school and the Jackson community have already begun making serious efforts to help out Union.

“Union has a great repor with the community,” Bruno said. “Local businesses and churches would do absolutely anything to help out.”

Bruno plans to head down to Jackson to join other volunteers in helping clean up the school, which is not expected to reopen until after February 18, 2008.

“Right now they have bigger things to worry about than school,” Bruno said. “They need to focus on rebuilding their lives.”

Abakwue said that he feels for the students who lost their homes and possessions.

“You’re heart goes out to these students, he said. “Your life is most valuable, but when you’re a kid coming a long way from home this is all you have.”

Sarah Stinson, a junior music major, said that she has no idea what will become of her old dorm or her school.

“At this point we’ve heard so many different stories,” Stinson said. “I guess we’re just waiting.”

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