Though Hurricane Harvey hit land over a month ago, the aftermath is still affecting those in Texas, and for one Troy professor, the damage really hit home.
Shellye Vardaman, the president of Phi Kappa Phi, a member of Sigma Theta Tau and an associate professor at the College of Health and Human Services at Troy University, grew up in Lumberton, Texas, and knew she wanted to help her home in some way.
“I wanted to do something for my hometown,” Vardaman said.
She chose to give back in a tangible way by connecting with Pastor Chad West of Gateway Church in Lumberton, who told her that the thing they really needed was monetary donations of any amount.
“All I could do was some monetary (donations), but that is what they asked me to do,” said Vardaman.
Vardaman said the officers of Phi Kappa Phi decided to donate $500, and Sigma Theta Tau decided to contribute $250 to hurricane relief, funds that were included in organization philanthropy budgets.
“We do fundraising in both organizations, and it was just within our budget,” Vardaman said.
West said the donations helped the church to assist more people.
“It relieves some of the feeling of helplessness to do more for the people hurting around us,” West said. “The people are so grateful for the help.
“Many of these people have never been in a place of need like this.”
According to worldvision.org, Hurricane Harvey cost $180 billion in damage around Texas, and only $125 billion is being covered by federal aid.
Vardaman visited Lumberton and Bevil Oaks, Texas, from Saturday, Sept. 23, to Monday, Sept. 25, to examine the destruction of Hurricane Harvey and to deliver the $750 to Gateway Church.
“(It) was three weeks (since the hurricane hit), and people in Bevil Oaks, Texas, had just gotten into their homes,” Vardaman said in regard to when she visited Bevil. “(I have) never seen anything like it.”
According to worldvision.org, Harvey produced over 27 trillion gallons of rain, and it has been estimated that 13 million people have been affected, and almost 135,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Vardaman said that Lumberton was surrounded by water for a few days, and it was a “miracle” that Gateway Church had resources to provide the people in need.
“Lumberton was one of the towns that was hard hit by Hurricane Harvey,” Vardaman said. “It was actually an island for several days.
“You couldn’t get into Lumberton nor out of Lumberton.”
She wants students to “remember (their) roots” when it comes to disasters like Hurricane Harvey.