William & Mary

Students help clean up tornado damage in Grove

  • Tornado cleanup
    Tornado cleanup  (Left to right) William & Mary seniors Elizabeth Daugherty, Chelsea Estancona and Tatiana Muldrow help clear debris from Reid Trailer Park in the Grove area of James City County.  Photo courtesy of Grove Christian Outreach Center
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Five William & Mary students joined with community members Saturday to help clean up tornado damage in the Grove area of James City County caused by an April 16 storm.

Chelsea Estancona ’11 organized the students’ involvement. She drove to Newport News the day after the storm and was stunned by the damage she saw in Grove, where more than 30 structures were damaged. With help from Kristina Snader, VISTA for student and community engagement, Estancona contacted the Grove Christian Outreach Center, which had a clean-up day scheduled for April 23.

“I had mentioned the idea to some friends, so it wasn't too difficult to get a group together,” said Estancona, a double major in government and Hispanic studies. “Overall, I wanted to help because there was a clear need for someone to do so and I knew other students would likely feel the same way.”

Katherine Eklund ‘10, Elizabeth Daughtery ‘11, Tatiana Muldrow ‘11 and Suleiman Ismael ’11 joined Estancona at Reid Trailer Park Saturday morning, picking up tree limbs, personal belongings and other debris that were strewn across the park.

Estancona said she was struck by the extent of the damage.

“In the time that I was there, we worked only on one property, destroyed to the point that the house was entirely unlivable and nearly all of the owner's possessions had to be scrapped,” she said. “I can't imagine being in that situation of having to essentially restart my life, and it was evident that several other families or individuals were dealing with similar damages. Cleanup and rebuilding will take enormous time and effort. Luckily, given the number of people helping on Saturday, it seems like the Grove community and outside volunteers have really come together to help.”

Estancona, who graduates in May, said that this was a “completely appropriate” way for her to spend one of her last weekends at William & Mary.

“The level of student involvement both on campus and in the community and beyond has been one of my favorite things about William and Mary, so it was fitting to spend time working with friends who feel the same way. It was definitely a Saturday morning well-spent,” she said.