Samford students stranded in DC learn about disaster relief

Some Samford University students are stuck in the storm zone. A{}group went to Washington,{}D.C. to take part in the Model United Nations competition.{}But Hurricane Sandy gave them an opportunity to witness what it means to be a leader in a disaster situation.

The students snapped photos{}by Samford University students of Sandy's destruction.

"These are giant oak trees three feet in diameter{}pulled out of the ground," said senior Devon Arnold.

But the stories they'll tell actually aren't captured in the images. They'll remember the days riding out the storm in the hotel.

"We went in the same elevator as a{}FEMA representative- we were asking what's going on? She said President Obama was actually in the same building. I was like 'whoa,'" said Surf Kirubel, a senior.

"We saw the presidential motorcade. The team was really excited," said Arnold.

The President was meeting{}FEMA workers in a connecting building. The students didn't see him. But they keep running into{}FEMA workers in the lobby, Starbucks and elevator.

"It was cool to walk around and see{}FEMA workers in the lobby going back and forth from the office. They are working 21 hour shifts right now. Just talking to them about all they are doing is really cool," said Lauren Hunt, a sophomore.

The students have spoken with the workers about the effort and organization going into providing relief to sandy survivors. They say it's turned their Model{}UN competition from a discussion about world politics into a real life lesson.

"They have to be ready for the unexpected. We learned to be patient and accept things don't always work as you want them to," said Kirubel.

They say they're witnessing firsthand what follows the storm.

"We were walking through the National Mall and seeing all the monuments.{}I feel those monuments offer a promise of hope," said Hunt.

The students are expected to return to Birmingham Thursday. In addition to their stories, they'll be bringing home an honorable mention from the competition.