Victims of the tornado have been left the task of sifting through their memories one piece of debris at a time. Many in the Vilonia and Mayflower area look at their now vacant lot and take action to rebuild their lives from the ground up. Residents are not alone in this endeavor. Volunteers and workers answered the call to help victims. Phi Sigma Kappa (FSK), fraternity on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas was among those called to help.
When the rain ceased and the sirens quieted, the young men of FSK rallied to support those affected by the storm. A group of four young men banded together to organize a group of compassionate individuals to volunteer their time to help those in need, despite the looming cloud of finals week.
“We had to do something. They needed help,” said FSK former President, Sean Ransonette.
The group was in need of communication and advertisement hub to spread the word on their efforts. “We started a meet-up group that just told everyone when and where to meet. From there we just went to the areas and helped in anyway we could.”
Ransonette explained the scene as “tragic and sad.”
The fraternity members visited Vilonia Monday morning following the tornado disaster. “Cars were completely wrecked and you couldn’t tell what were houses or lumber yards,” said Ransonette, “I’ve never seen something like it before.”
The young men recounted seeing the rubble and debris. “It was bad,” said FSK member, Jack Spradlin.
“It was like if you take strawberries, bananas, yogurt, and put it in a blender. Before you turn it on you can recognize everything. It’s normal, then you turn on the power and everything gets mixed up and it’s hard to remember what you started with,” said FSK member, Ryan Battisto.
“We had to help. It was the right thing to do,” said Spradlin.
The group of young men visited Mayflower Tuesday to lend a hand once again to the victims of the storm. They recounted the same view they saw in Vilonia, tussled cars, debris-filled fields that were once family homes, and families rummaging for memories of their not-so-distant past.
The men were filled with joy that they could help. “It was great to see everyone come together and help. You didn’t know who was a victim and who was a volunteer. It was a community working together to bring relief,” said Battisto.