Thursday, March 16, 2017

Alternative Spring Break 2017: Hurricane Disaster Recovery Mission Trip to Virginia Beach

By Dr. Jan Nicholson Angle, Dean of the Chapel

Five students and two staff from Ferrum College gave up their Spring Break to travel to Virginia Beach where they assisted two families who are recovering from the effects of Hurricane Matthew. Hurricane Matthew struck the Virginia coast in October 2016. Ferrum College continues to be the only Virginia based United Methodist affiliated college team to volunteer with The Virginia Conference United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Disaster Recovery working to assist families along the Virginia coast who are recovering from both the September 2016 tornado and October 2016 hurricane.

Our Ferrum College team of seven persons arrived in Virginia Beach Friday at 11 pm. We were up Saturday morning and on our first work site by 8 am. We arrived to find a couple living in a trailer located in the driveway of their home. Previous teams had worked with them to remove and treat the water-damaged walls of their home. This family, paralyzed by the trauma of the hurricane, had moved only a portion of their belongings out of the house leaving many personal items and furniture still inside. Our job for the next two days was to support and assist this couple in moving the salvageable belongings to storage. More importantly our team truly set aside self and embraced other as we listened to this beautiful couple reminisce their favorite family memories, and shed silent tears as they came to terms in parting with family heirlooms that were too water damaged to be saved. With most of their belongings in storage, and the assurance of other work teams to follow, our team laid hands on the homeowner and the furnishings now moved to storage asking for God’s blessings and safe keeping over his family, his home, and his belongings.

The second family our work team assisted was an older couple who, as Hurricane Matthew bore down upon them, had helplessly watched the waters rise covering the entire first floor of their town home. When we arrived we quickly realized that this couple was at a different stage of recovery as they had already moved all their water damaged belongings out of the house, had the walls repaired, and were waiting on our team to install wood laminate flooring in both their living and dining rooms.

While the work we did and the skills we attained individually and as team were amazing, NOTHING could take the place of watching Ms. Eleanor at 70+ years of age do her happy dance on her new living room floor. As our final day of work closed, it was not only Ms Eleanor who was shedding tears as we stood hand in hand with her in her dining room. We praised God for bringing her safely through the storm and offering her hope for tomorrow. Ms. Eleanor said over and over again how she would have never been able to recover without us. Of course we all knew better, but are thankful that for this Spring Break we have had the opportunity to represent Ferrum College and re-present the love of God to those who now hold a very special place in our hearts.

Team Members

Students: Stephanie Gibbs, a senior majoring in Health Sciences; Alexis Hatcher, a junior majoring in Religion; Mark Kellam a sophomore majoring in Environmental Science; Lukas McWhorter, a junior majoring in Environmental Science; and Ricky Phillips a sophomore majoring in Computer Science.

Staff: Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Engagement Daniel Kyle and Dean of the Chapel Jan Nicholson Angle.

View additional photographs from the trip here.

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