News | October 25th, 2018
FAMU Cares: How The University Is Coming Together For Hurricane Relief
By: Alexis Grant
A day after Florida A&M’s annual homecoming festivities, news broke of a storm heading towards Florida’s Panhandle. While it wouldn’t be the first hurricane to hit the area, it would prove to be one of the most powerful and historic.
Now, nearly three weeks after Hurricane Michael made landfall as the first ever category four hurricane to touch this side of Florida, FAMU students and faculty are experiencing just how impactful a storm of Michael’s caliber could be.
Students in Leon County returned to school on October 15, just days after the storm hit the area. While many residents throughout Tallahassee lost power initially, the amount of devastation in Leon County has drastically decreased. Unfortunately, for those who live or have family in neighboring counties like Gadsden, Bay, or Jackson, the same thing cannot be said.
Florida A&M University organized the “FAMU Cares” Hurricane Relief Drive from October 15 to 19 to supply students and community members with emergency items including non-perishable food, water, and toiletries. Students were able to visit FAMU’s recreational center, sign in and receive all the supplies they needed. All of the items were on hand and students were immediately provided with necessities such as toothpaste, deodorant, canned food — even tables and mattresses for their homes.
“These are the things that we really need right now,” Samuel Wright said. “I definitely took these things for granted in the past but being in the disaster areas made realize just how useful and reliable these items can be.”
The University held a town-hall meeting Monday afternoon to hear from students who are in need and discuss other plans to help. University President Dr. Larry Robinson says that FAMU has shifted it’s focus.
“At FAMU we’re shifting to what we can do to help the many students that have been impacted by the storm.”
Jalisa Fagg has been a source of relief for her entire family in the wake of the storm. Now, with recovery still far from reach, the reality is effecting her student life.
“My family doesn’t have any power or running water,” Fagg explained. “I used my refund check from school to put them up in a hotel but resources are running out and we still have no word on how long they’ll be without power and water.”
Unfortunately, this is the reality for many students in FAMU’s community.
University leaders have created a mission to help aid in relief efforts for students and families.
According to FAMU Vice President Dr. William Hudson Jr., the university has also called upon colleges and offices within the university to organize relief efforts for its students.
“The School of Pharmacy has been doing a drive all week that is doing really well,” Johnathan Horton stated. “They’ve been collecting items and are organizing ways to get the items out to people.”
But the help isn’t just coming from university leaders. Students are compiling their efforts together with various organizations to bring relief to those affected.
Members of FAMU’s Alpha Xi chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity have organized the “PanhandleStrong” movement to bring awareness to the effected areas.
“We started a GoFundMe to take donations to actually be disbursed to the different counties impacted,” Jon Franklin said of the initiative. “We also went down to Marianna to help clean up inside of homes and throughout the community. We are also planning a Trunk or Treat to have in Gadsden and Jackson county so that kids can have a Halloween.”
FAMU’s football team, who traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina during the storm, also traveled to neighboring counties after the storm to aid in recovery.
The team played North Carolina A&T State University the Saturday immediately following the storm and upon their arrival back in Tallahassee, team members were driven to Mariana and Havana to pass out water and other supplies to victims.
Ultimately, recovery from Hurricane Michael will be a slow and steady race to the finish line. Still one thing has become very apparent over the course of the last two weeks and even in past years: FAMU cares.