Updated Friday, September 15, 2017
The Union College disaster response team will wrap up operations in Texas today and return to Lincoln over the weekend.
During the five days the teams worked in the Port Arthur area, students helped residents clean out 20 homes and met many memorable people. Junior IRR major Madison Kamarad remembered a woman who rode out the flood on the roof of her house with her thee girls. At one point, the woman fell through the roof and broke several ribs.
“She told us she had been praying for a miracle,” said Kamarad, who met the woman when she came to the Groves church to provide proof of eligibility for a $600 grant from the team.
“She was very stiff and obviously in pain,” Kamarad continued. “But she thanked us and told us we were literally an answer to her prayer.”
For Kamarad, seeing how something seemingly so small could make such a difference reinforced the importance of doing whatever she can to help those in need.
“I know $600 doesn’t do a lot to fix the damage from a hurricane,” she said. “But for this woman, the money was a miracle sent from God. If we hadn’t made this trip, that miracle might not have happened in as meaningful a way. She saw God working through us and I thought that was really cool.”
The team gave out $600 grants to 15 families recovering homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Funding for the grants was made possible by gifts given for the trip at the Hope for Houston concert and through the Union College website.
Updated Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Today, Union students continued to help residents in southeast Texas clean up after Hurricane Harvey. The nearly 30 inches of rain dumped on the Port Arthur area caused extensive flood damage to many parts of the city. Since Monday, several teams of students have been helping residents begin the process of recovering their homes.
“On Tuesday, we entered a home that didn’t look like it had been touched since the storm,” said Jorrdan Bissell, a senior international rescue and relief major from Pennsylvania. “The woman who lived there didn’t know what to do.”
Bissell’s team set to work ripping out flooring, drywall and cabinets—already very moldy after two weeks. They also helped the woman organize her salvagable personal belongings.
“She couldn’t stop thanking us,” he said. “She might have lost her whole house if we hadn’t shown up today to get rid of the mold. We made a big difference, and she now has a plan for rebuilding and recovery.”
Financial support for families
Thanks to funding from two local organizations to cover the cost of the trip to Texas, all the Hurricane Harvey relief funds given at the Hope for Houston concert and the Union College website will be used to provide $600 grants to a number of families in the Port Arthur area who need additional assistance in the recovery process.
If you would like to help, please visit www.ucollege.edu/giving and select “IRR disaster relief trip” in the designation.
See more photos at Union’s Facebook page.
Updated Tuesday, September 12, 2017
The Union disaster response team arrived in Texas on Monday morning to begin recovery work in the southeast Texas. The logistics crew set up a base of operations at the Groves Community Adventist Church in Port Arthur, while response teams began work clearing debris from three damaged homes in the area.
On Tuesday, two teams continued working in several more homes in Port Arthur and Beaumont.
Originally posted Wednesday, September 6, 2017
This weekend Union College students plan to jump into action to help Hurricane Harvey survivors in southeastern Texas.
On the ground in Port Arthur
Two teams of Union College students will depart for Texas to assist with the cleanup work in Port Arthur and Beaumont, two coastal communities near the Louisiana border. The area sustained massive flood damage, and the crews will be working with local residents to clean out houses and yards so they can return to their homes.
The self-contained teams will stay in local churches and work in the communities Monday through Friday, Sept. 11-15, and return over the following weekend.
The teams will be made up mostly of international rescue and relief students, who are uniquely prepared for disaster response work thanks to certification as emergency medical technicians during their first year and training in wilderness survival, search and rescue, swift water rescue, high angle rescue and other emergency preparedness skills. The one-of-a-kind IRR program prepares graduates for careers in public safety, emergency management, health care or global development.
To support the cleanup effort, the IRR teams are looking for donations of certain items such hammers, pry bars, flat shovels, bleach, saws, muck boots and leather gloves. They will be accepting dropoffs from 8:00 a.m – 3:00 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 8) at the IRR offices located in the south end of the Don Love Building, accessible from the parking lot off Prescott Street east of the gymnasium. Cash gifts can also be made at www.ucollege.edu/giving by selecting “IRR disaster relief trip” in the designation.
Benefit concert to help fund relief trip
Not content to simply let the IRR majors do the work on the ground in Texas, Union College students will host a concert to raise money for the trip. Featuring Union College music groups and musicians from around Lincoln, the Praise in the Storm: Hope for Houston concert will be held at the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church sanctuary at 7:00 on Saturday, Sept. 9.