It’s been ten years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region, leaving thousands displaced and without a home. At the time Clayton State students and faculty pulled resources together to travel to the impacted region to provide aid. While much of the media centered on the state of Louisiana, there were many other states affected as well. Members of our Clayton State community traveled to the Mississippi cities of Biloxi and Jackson.
“They went out with the Navy and National Guard troops, triaging people and giving emergency care,” noted Eichelberger. “They [saw] dysentery and other parasitic illnesses already from anything but bottled water.”
In addition to providing on ground support, Volunteer Services, a division of Campus Life, set up tables to collect nonperishable items, bottled water, clothes, and money for the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.
Traveling to the Gulf Coast Region
Four Clayton State faculty members, at the time acting department chair of Nursing Dr. Sue Bingham, Associate Professor of Nursing Dr. Karen Weaver, Assistant Professor of Nursing Dora Weir and Instructor of Nursing Carrie Dodson and 20 student nurses gathered to assist those in need.
Dr. Lisa Eichelberger, Dean of the College of Health, spent the weekend prior to their departure working out the details, including recruiting students, re-arranging their classwork, procuring transportation and supplies.
They split into two groups with one group that assisted in Jackson, Ms. at the First Baptist Church Special Needs Shelter. The other group of students, originally headed to Hattiesburg, Ms., was suddenly re-routed to Biloxi Ms. due to the severity of damage in Hattiesburg.
“Knowing that the people of Biloxi have no home, no possessions, and along with seeing the coastline and what is left of this large city has made an impact on me that I couldn’t even begin to explain,” said Stacey Clements, a senior nursing student.
“I had a chance to interact with many of the patients, but there were two brothers from New Orleans that I became attached to,” Jocelyn Okoro, a senior nursing student expressed.
“The brothers lost everything in the hurricane and flood of New Orleans. One of the brothers was forced to separate from his wife and children who were sent to Houston. The brothers shared many stories with the volunteers.
“They were very kind and entertaining, even though they have been dealt a bad hand, they still looked at the bright side of things… they still have their lives and their family members are okay,” said Okoro.
“This is not a time for partisan politics. It is time to help out our fellow Americans that are in need,” said fellow student Sean Walker.