MU Delta Tau Delta fraternity members aid relief efforts in Joplin

Friday, May 27, 2011 | 3:10 p.m. CDT; updated 2:21 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 15, 2011
MU Delta Tau Delta Fraternity member Sam Karson works in the town of Duquesne, just east of Joplin, to clean up the damage left over from the EF5 tornado that hit Joplin on Sunday. Karson and 14 other fraternity members spent the morning on Thursday separating metal from the trees so that clean up crews could begin to individually remove the wreckage from the affected areas.

COLUMBIA — Members of MU's Delta Tau Delta fraternity were among the first to offer help to the victims of Sunday’s deadly tornado.

Fifteen university juniors, seniors and alumni headed to Joplin on Monday night with $1,500 worth of relief items. Some planned to stay through the weekend, with others looking to join the effort next week.


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Volunteer Seth Alden said the work has included picking up shingles, sheet rock and other debris, nailing plywood over windows to prevent looting, delivering generators and flood lights and helping people salvage belongings.

“There’s a lot of our university family here,” said Delta Tau Delta President Patrick Wolff. “It’s really nice to be able to come down and help those families, help our own state.”

The men said they were moved to action when they heard about the destruction from friends. After spending two days working in Joplin, they agreed that pictures of the aftermath do not do it justice.

“It’s hard to fathom that people were actually able to … ride out the storm and survive it,” Wolff said. “As we’re going down the road, I’m just thinking, there’s no way. I have no idea. It kind of makes you appreciate maybe a little bit more the severity that some of these storms can cause.”

Fraternity member Charlie Landis recalled one sobering moment.

“I saw this older man get out of the car,” Landis said, “and he just looked at his family who was helping move stuff out and just started bawling, and they all came up and group hugged for a while. And all you could hear is this guy crying, and that was kind of eye-opening for me.”

Landis said going to Joplin was about providing the assistance he would hope for if he found himself in a similar situation.

“I’ve never been through anything like this, but if I was, then I would love if someone came in and helped me,"Landis said. "So I’m gonna do the same thing for them.”

Missourian reporter Eliza Smith contributed to this report.

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