“Where do you stay? How do you drive? How do your kids get to school? How do you find the money to rebuild,” thought Graham Pierce, a senior risk management insurance major from Niceville, Florida, as he assisted with disaster relief efforts in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Raven Pasibe, a 2016 broadcast journalism Troy alumna from Dothan and a current advertising and public relations graduate student at the University of Alabama, contacted Pierce and got connected with a local church in Baton Rouge, Living Hope Fellowship, to help.
“The experience was interesting because a lot of times you hear about donating,” Pasibe said.
“Getting there and realizing that it’s not anything material that they need, but people on the ground with hands and feet that can really help them,” she said.
Pierce and five other Troy University students (along with Pasibe) spent Saturday, Aug. 27, helping a local resident, Marlyn Elbert, clean up her house from the aftermath.
“The houses have so much destruction and you don’t realize how much flooding can cause. It was cool to see how we could pray with the families and get to know Ms. Marlyn and be a little hope for her in the situation,” Pasibe said.
Carly Moore, a sophomore undeclared major from Cleveland, Tennessee, Caitlin Saliba, a senior nursing major from Dothan, Justin Lewis, a junior political science major from Gainesville, Virginia, Claudia Estrella, a senior in the American Sign Language interpreter training program from Enterprise and Chloe Lyle, a sophomore multimedia journalism major from Chattanooga, Tennessee, participated in the cleanup.
Pierce said that a member of Living Hope Fellowship housed the students during their stay and organized the project with Elbert.
“Reading about how terrible the flooding was really struck me,” Pierce said.
“It (the flooding) is considered the worst natural disaster since Super Storm Sandy. I really wanted to get a firsthand look at how bad the damage was,” he said.
According to CNN on Aug. 19, “the catastrophic flood devastating Louisiana is now the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Hurricane Sandy four years ago, the Red Cross said.”
Pierce encourages students to go to Louisiana to volunteer and to seek philanthropies supporting the cause.
Troy University athletics is collecting monetary donations, bottled water, non-perishable food items, clothing, linens and towels and various household items.
The Student Government Association is also collecting donations, both monetary and tangible.
Donations can be brought to room 215 of the Trojan Center or the Tine W. Davis Field House (on the Troy Campus.)
According to NBC, “The heavy rain began Friday (Aug. 12), with 6 to 10 inches falling on southeast parts of the state. Several more inches fell Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.”
For students who cannot make it Baton Rouge, Pasibe suggests looking for ways to serve others in the Troy community.
“There are families right in Troy and the surrounding areas who are in need; (they) desparately need help by childcare, may need a ride to work or there are students on campus who probably don’t have a home,” Pasibe said.
“For me, it’s about how we can serve others in general,” she said.