LAWRENCE, Kansas - Students from the KU chapter of the American Meteorological Society recall watching in horror as tornadoes ripped a path of destruction across the southeast.
"I knew the aftermath was going to be bad, especially after watching it rip through towns like Tuscaloosa and stuff," said student Mike Robinson. "But I don't think anyone expected over 300 people to die."
Adam Smith, another meteorology student, said dealing with tornadoes is something most Kansans take for granted, and that gives these students some perspective on the disaster.
"I think we can all kind of relate to what they're going through, even if we've never experienced that kind of devastation before," Smith said.
The images of leveled homes and lives destroyed by the twisters sparked a desire in this group to head to one of the hardest-hit cities.
As the students prepare for their trip to Tuscaloosa, they must rely on help from the community to get them to Alabama.
The group is trying to raise at least two thousand dollars for gas, lodging, disaster relief, and clean-up supplies to take to Tuscaloosa.
"We would also like to take water and food and supplies down there," said Smith. "Things like brushing our teeth and taking a shower and things like that. Some of these people can't do yet. So, we'd like to help them out."
Mike Robinson said the group was told to bring chainsaws, gloves, and masks. "I think we'll just be cleaning debris and getting people ready to rebuild again," he predicts.
Rebuilding is a task that will be likely be measured not in weeks, but rather in years.
The students leave May 23rd to spend a week in Tuscaloosa.
You can help the students' efforts by donating on their blog .