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Group in town on mission trip shifts mission to tornado cleanup

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PLAINFIELD — As dozens of homeowners took up the difficult task of picking up what Tuesday’s tornado left behind, they got help from an unlikely source.

A group of 250 high school and college students happened to be in town on a mission trip through the national group CityReach. They were already doing work at Church on the Rock in Brownsburg when the tornado hit.

“We had to hunker down in a Target and wait out the storm there,” CityReach member Autumn Scrimshire said.

When it was over, the group immediately decided to shift some of its mission work to the tornado-damaged neighborhoods in Plainfield and the far west side of Indianapolis.

“I think their first reaction to us was that we were a contractor, (someone) that was coming in wanting to clean for money,” CityReach leader Nathan Rogers said.

Instead, the group pitched in for free. They were welcomed with open arms by residents like Marina Lazo.

Lazo was home when the storm rolled in.

“Next thing you know we just (see) this thing, just swirling around and my mom’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, everybody take cover,'” Lazo said.

Fortunately, Lazo’s family and everyone else in the area were safe from injuries. They’ve been left with only damage to contend with.

“It was a mess,” Lazo said.

CityReach volunteers helped haul a tree out of Lazo’s yard that had hit her family’s house. They also picked up all kinds of debris from yards around the neighborhood.

“I’m really grateful that they actually came to help us out because I don’t know if we would’ve been able to do this all by ourselves,” Lazo said.

The group planned to be back out in the area Thursday to do even more heavy lifting. Their mission trip at Church on the Rock continues to the end of the week.