Massachusetts students spend spring break renovating flooded homes
BATON ROUGE - While many college students head to the beach for spring break, some who go to school in the northern United States are traveling down to the capital area instead, helping rebuild flood houses.
It's a busy time for non-profits like Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge because of this reason. Even though we are close to two years out from the 2016 flood, there are still hundreds of houses that need renovation. So when Rebuilding Together gets groups like these spring-breakers in town, they put them to work.
“For the most part we're putting up dry wall and we are mudding,” said Victoria Beyer. “But of course, I don't say it right. It's 'muddin’'.”
For one week, Clark University students from Massachusetts are spending their time in Baton Rouge volunteering to fix up a house that had two feet of water inside.
“Honestly, if not, I think I would just be sleeping... I think this is a more meaningful way to spend my time,” said Ophelia Okoh.
The house off Delaware Street needs a complete renovation, including sub-flooring. It’s work these students are surprised is not done yet.
“It was kind of disheartening that people were still struggling so much,” said Beyer.
The volunteers remember hearing snippets about the flood on the news.
“If you have a friend maybe who shared an article, that's kind of the only way we found out,” explained Okoh.
But they say until you see the aftermath firsthand, it’s hard to grasp the full effect.
“I had no idea it was so impactful and so damaging,” said Beyer.
That’s why these students say if sanding down a ceiling can help, it’s worth devoting their time off too.
“Whether they're living in a FEMA home or a relative's, and they get to go back into their kitchen, their bedroom... I want to be a part of that,” said Okoh.
The students are able to travel down here through a fellowship chapter at their school. Next week, Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge will get another round of 30 spring break volunteers. But even still, they say the house they're working on now won't be finished for several weeks.
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