EMORY, Va. - In the aftermath of the April, 2011 Glade Spring tornado, the Emory & Henry College Wasps were busy as bees helping the cleanup.
"The tornado was something that brought the Emory community together," Mary Beth Tignor said. "It also brought us together with the Glade Spring community."
For their volunteer efforts, E&H students and staff are the Emergency Responder Heroes award winners in the American Red Cross/WCYB Celebration of Heroes.
"We were very excited, humbled," said the college's Public Relations Director Dirk Moore. "It was quite an honor for the institution."
Tignor was a sophomore when the tornado struck. "I was in one of the first groups of students who went to Glade to help out with the cleanup effort," she said.
She tells us the tornado hit the day before final exams so students shifted their focus from helping themselves to helping others. She says she'll never forget the destructive scene. "It looked like something off of a movie," Tignor said. "One of the most vivid memories to me is the insulation and other debris from homes being almost embedded in the grass to the point that you felt like you would need to go through with a comb almost to be able to get all of the small pieces."
College spokesman Dirk Moore tells us he believes this award is validation of the school's strong commitment to community service. In this case, heroic service. "We all tried to pitch in and do our part as much as we could," Tignor said. "I don't know that that made us heroes or not as much as just concerned citizens."
"The fact that they were very diligent and passionate about helping Glade Spring in the recovery really suggested something very heroic," Moore said.