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Nomads lend helping hand to Alabama tornado victims

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Less than two weeks after tornadoes ripped through Enterprise, Ala., most of the city still looked shredded. Even with volunteers coming in from different parts of the country to help out, more was still needed, and that's when Airmen from the 33rd Maintenance Squadron decided to lend a hand to their neighbors to the north.

It started out very simple. The family of Staff Sgt. Keith Wroten, a 33rd MXS training monitor, lives in Enterprise and days after the tornadoes hit, he planned to go help them clean up and recover from the tornadoes. He asked Staff Sgt. Jared Green and Senior Airman Janel Eaton, both 33rd MXS munitions accountability Airmen, if they wanted to come with him to help his family too.

"After we spent the weekend up there, we realized there was still a lot that needed to be done," Airman Eaton said. "So we started asking if anybody in the shop wanted to go back the following weekend."

What they got were 36 willing and able Airmen from the 33rd MXS to spend their personal time March 9-10 helping clean up the destruction all around Enterprise.

"We split up into different crews helping out where they needed us," Sergeant Green said.

The 36 Airmen were part of more than 500 volunteers, all coordinated by the Lutheran Disaster Response and AmeriCorps members, who spent March 9-10, cutting and removing fallen trees from yards, climbing up on roofs and laying tarps to keep the rain out, repairing chainsaws and handing out equipment to keep the clean-up effort going.

"The effort was awesome," said Airman Eaton.

By noon Saturday, there were very few work orders coming in because so much had been accomplished.

"We really like helping people and making a difference," he said.

Sergeant Green agreed.

"You can volunteer for a lot of things in the Air Force like the Airmen's Attic or a promotion ceremony, but going up to Enterprise and helping those in need just felt right," he said.

The Airmen's clean-up efforts were all part of an on-going effort to clean up a town turned upside down.

Eglin App