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TCU 360

TCU 360

All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

HURRICANE HELP

HURRICANE HELP

One student, who worked in Louisiana last week hoping to change a national image of college students, said getting “black-out drunk” during Spring Break is in the past.Josh Noble, a junior biology major and vice president of Phi Kappa Sigma, joined 150 students Saturday on Spring Break in Lake Charles, La., to rebuild a community devastated by Hurricane Rita 18 months ago.

Noble said Spring Break festivities often give college students a bad name.

“I’ve had my fair share of freshman Cancun trips and ski trips in Tahoe,” Noble said. “I want people to know that people in the Greek community are getting out there to help.”

In 2006, United Way of America and ThinkMTV formed a partnership to recruit volunteers between the ages of 18 and 24 willing to give up their Spring Breaks to help Gulf Coast communities devastated by hurricanes in 2005, said Angela Walker, a volunteer program associate for United Way of America in southeastern Michigan.

Noble was recruited by his hometown’s United Way affiliate in Detroit, said Sheila Consaul, spokesperson for United Way of America.

The United Way Alternative Spring Break 2007 trip will be featured this week in a segment called “Amazing Break” on TRL, she said.

Consaul said Hurricane Rita was the third largest natural disaster in American history, but it unfortunately remains overshadowed by the impact of Hurricane Katrina, the nation’s most devastating natural disaster that occurred three months prior to Hurricane Rita.

“Homes are definitely still scattered around,” Noble said. “Some of them floated down the bayou and settled in the marshes.”

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, 20,000 people fled to southwest Louisiana, the region later destroyed by Hurricane Rita, Noble said. Lake Charles is in this region, and people are still sleeping on cots in the civic center as they wait for assistance they cannot afford, Noble said.

“The last major hurricane to hit Lake Charles was in 1957,” Noble said. “It took 10 years to get it back to how it used to be, and it will probably take 10 years this time too.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is charging Louisiana in full for the aid it has given since the hurricanes, Noble said. However, an agreement was made: For every hour of community service performed in Louisiana, FEMA will credit it back $18.35, he said.

“This week alone, we earned the state of Louisiana $173,517 in credit toward its debt,” Noble said.

People often wonder what leads someone back to a place knowing that it will likely be destroyed every 40-50 years, Noble said.

“It’s the culture here that brings them back,” Noble said. “It’s the warm-hearted Creole people that you can’t find anywhere else.”

Citizens of Lake Charles need “an incredible amount of assistance” to rebuild, Consaul said.

Working in teams of 10 to 12, volunteers face a variety of difficult jobs throughout the week, Walker said. They will reconstruct and build homes and remove the debris that destroyed cabins at Camp Fire USA youth camp, she said.

“There are about 6,000 homes in limbo waiting for FEMA assistance and tons of houses with blue tarp roofs,” Noble said. “People aren’t getting help from insurance agencies and many have been scammed by contractors who either take their money or do a bad job.”

The home of Salemah Broussard, 65, received more water damage after her new roof was built than she did during Hurricane Katrina, Noble said. While Noble’s team worked at her house Thursday, she sang church songs to encourage them, he said.

When Noble began to tear down Broussard’s ceiling, he noticed it was infested with black mold. He said his team was forced to abort the project and discard their clothes.

Noble had to bleach everything in Broussard’s house, a task he said was difficult because of all the special things she kept there.

“Bleach is the only real mold litigation we have access to,” Consaul said. “Josh showed huge depth of character in his willingness to lead the team on a difficult task.”

Noble became associated with United Way of America as a high school student in Michigan, Walker said. He and his friends went to Congress to establish 211, a natural disaster emergency information number.

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