Thirty-eight students from the ISU chapter of the Associated General Contractors, as well as 10 faculty and adults, have recently returned from a 15-hour trek to Johnson City, Tenn., where they assisted in the rebuilding of storm-ravaged homes.

“They got six and a half inches of rain in 45 minutes,” said Zach Mitchell, senior in construction engineering as well as Field Trip Coordinator for American General Contractors.

These homes were damaged to varying degrees as a result of a devastating August thunderstorm.

“It literally picked up and moved a house into the middle of the street,” said Michael Donlin, junior in construction engineering and American General Contractors cabinet member.

Estimations state that 130 homes were affected by the storm, making this area a fitting choice for the group, a student organization whose top priority is community service, both in Ames as well as in other parts of the United States.

In Tennessee, the group teamed up with the Appalachia Service Project, a Christian nonprofit organization whose main ideal is to repair homes for low-income families in the Central Appalachian region.

“[The] goal [of the Appalachia Service Project] is to rebuild this whole area," Mitchell said. "They’re the head of the volunteering to rebuild it, as well as [accepting] donations.”

The Appalachia Service Project funded food for the American General Contractors for the week, as well as any necessary expenses for construction-related items.

“All we had to do was just do the work,” Donlin said.

From Saturday, Nov. 17 through Tuesday, Nov. 20, these students and adults worked full days, with the exception of Saturday, a half-day, in reconstructing three houses from the ground up, as well as completing any miscellaneous tasks needed.

Donlin further explains what went in to this revitalization project.

“We framed up the houses," Donlin said. "Basically, all we had was the block of the foundation and went up from there. We did all the framing, siding, windows, doors [and] roof. From the outside it looked like a complete house."

American General Contractors’ assistance provided a substantial boost to the Appalachia Service Project’s goals.

“They were going to do two or three [homes] before Christmas, but after we came in, they scheduled it for six,” Donlin said. “Three more people will have a nice Christmas present.”

The high level of assistance the group was able to provide for the Appalachia Service Project was also fairly unique.

“Typically, they just repair homes — they don’t do new construction — so this was a new thing for them," Donlin said. "I think us coming in to do three homes in three days was a huge help for them.”

American General Contractors’ fall sojourn to the volunteer state may not be their only one, as there is still plenty of work to be done in the area.

“We’re talking about going down to Tennessee for spring break,” Mitchell said.

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