2nd NSU team volunteers with hurricane clean up in Texas

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NSU volunteers assisted the Brown Family of Port Arthur, Texas, with clean up after their home was flooded during Hurricane Harvey. On the front row from left are Brittney Harvey, Alejandro Zarcarias, Rosa Zarcarias and Mya Holmes. On the back row are Norman Vertenian, Chris Iwasko, the Brown family, Bill Fair, Orlandan Williams, Dustin Ramey, Guadalupe de Jesus and Mendez Zaragoza. Not shown are team members Adriana Zacarias and Charlie Cadwell. This was the second team from NSU to travel to southeast Texas to residents with the dirty work of gutting homes and assisting with hurricane and flood relief.

NATCHITOCHES – As a follow-up to the 27-member hurricane relief and clean-up team from Northwestern State University that went to Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, in September, a second team of 12 NSU students plus other volunteers worked in Port Arthur Oct. 6-8 where they gutted homes to remove water-damaged flooring, drywall, paneling and insulation damaged by flooding associated with Hurricane Harvey. Alejandro Zacarias, an instructor in NSU’s Department of Engineering Technology, coordinated the trip.

Organizers said that quick response on the part of flood recovery teams is critical if homes are to be saved.  Wall coverings and insulation must be removed quickly so wall studs can dry thoroughly before new walls are installed.  The work is hard and dirty, but the volunteers willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

“Homeowners such as the Browns with whom we worked usually cannot do the work fast enough when they can do it at all,” said Dr. Curt Phifer, a professor in NSU’s Louisiana Scholars’ college who organized last month’s trip and has previous experience with flood relief in south Louisiana.   “Thus the work of recovery groups like our NSU teams is critical.”

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The team continued to coordinate work through Operation Blessing International, a relief agency works in disasters of all types, ranging from hurricanes, tornadoes and floods, to hunger and disease aid, to refugee assistance.

“Operation Blessing was in south Texas immediately after Harvey hit, and while still operating in Texas set up other centers in Florida for Hurricane Irma recovery.   NSU teams have been blessed to partner with Operation Blessing for both trips this year and in Denham Springs last fall,” Phifer said.

Information on Operation Blessing and continuing relief efforts can be found at ob.org.