Students Spend Spring Break Doing Hurricane Relief

Forget Padre Island, Destin or even Cancun, this spring break's hot destination for a group of Georgia Tech students is New Orleans. Starting Sunday, March 19, a group of students will be helping people whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Katrina to rebuild their lives. It's the latest in a series of efforts by the students, faculty and staff of Georgia Tech to help those who were displaced by this season's storms.

On Sunday morning, 44 Georgia Tech students will head to New Orleans, for an eight-day trip to help residents of St. Bernard Parish clean up their storm damaged homes. Students will be working with Habitat for Humanity.

"We'll be removing trash and personal items from the houses that are salvageable," said Sarah Brackmann, assistant director of student involvement for the Office of Community Service (OCS).

In addition to helping with storm clean up, students will visit Tulane University for a talk by Tulane students and local residents about the realities of living in a post-Katrina New Orleans.

Shortly after Katrina, Tech provided food and shelter to 275 student evacuees from Tulane. Volunteers from Tech helped many of them get to their hometowns and assisted others who needed help finding housing in Atlanta.

This is the third such trip Tech students have taken to the areas damaged by last year's storms. Over winter break, another group of students traveled to Mobile, AL, to help clean homes damaged, rather than going home for the holidays.

During the fall break, the Tech chapter of Campus Christian Fellowship organized a relief trip that delivered 225 student volunteers to four locations along the Gulf Coast. The organization worked with Tech's Student Health Services to provide tetanus shots for student volunteers, and the Counseling Center to provide orientation sessions.

Students and the Institute have responded to the needs of the Gulf Coast in a myriad of ways. Shortly after the storms, students raised more than $50,000 for relief efforts. Georgia Tech also opened the Coliseum for the Red Cross to use as a temporary shelter. Several volunteers from campus coordinated activities for the children at the shelter, while trained caseworkers volunteered their time to help evacuees obtain needed resources.