Thursday March 9, 2006
Today Nicole Yeo and her crew worked for the city of Long Beach, cleaning up the roadside. Nicole Yeo a sophomore from Wyoming, N.Y., explained that they put garbage and leaves into to piles to beautify the 2½ miles of highway they were working on. “We’ve spent seven hours today cleaning up a 2½ mile strip of road diligently working, but we were glad to help in any way we can,” Nicole said.
Like many others, Nicole still can’t believe how much damage Katrina did and how much of it hasn’t been touched since the storm.
“Six months later is doesn’t look like much has been done," Nicole said. "There are still piles and piles on the street of debris and rubble from inside the houses from three towns over. You go to the beach and you see nothing, there are only foundations and studs. It’s hard to put into the words the things you gain, even in a week's worth. Being down here and seeing the gratitude people show from other towns and communities willing to help just emphasizes the caring nature of humans."
There is a caring nature of humans, but more specifically there is also the infamous Southern hospitality. “You don’t really understand the meaning of 'Southern hospitality' until you come down here and experience it,” she explained.
Nicole has enjoyed this entire trip, but having familiar faces turn into the faces of friends has been one of the best parts. “Definitely the people are the best part about this trip. Not to mention that any experience like this I can get just affirms that this is what kind of work I should be doing,” Nicole explained.
Nicole wants to enter a field of work involved with disaster relief or volunteer work and this trip has only verified that service work is her future. Senior TJ Tetzlaff also wants to pursue service work.
TJ Tetzlaff, a senior from Youngstown, N.Y., has been involved in service work for years. “Service work is everything. It’s why we’re here – to help people who can’t help themselves. Humans being are spectacular, they are the light of the world, and we should be doing anything we can to help each other,” TJ said.
TJ’s group has mainly been working on one house all week, helping this woman rebuild her entire house.
“We’ve been tearing down walls and doing mold treatments on the walls. I’m really lucky that my team got to spend an entire week with a single family, because we’ve developed such a bond with her. When we gave her a good-bye card to let her know we are thinking about her, she just burst into tears. She just couldn’t believe that people would give up their spring break to come down and help,” he explained.
TJ and his crew aren’t the only ones helping. The woman whose how they are rebuilding is also doing all she can to help others.
“All she has is her little FEMA trailer and her house, which is decimated, and she opened it up to the whole neighborhood," TJ said. "There are people sleeping all over and through all this she is such a strong woman. It’s been amazing to get to know her and to work with her – she’s just phenomenal. There were times when she didn’t have toothpaste, electricity or running water and she said the only thing that got her through was family. So being here really gives you the perspective about what things are most important in life."
Perhaps the best advice TJ gave was that, “It’s an experience to be had, not a story to be heard.”
SBU Responds to Katrina
Countdown! | On the Road | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5