LSU Construction Management Students, Alumni Help Houston Residents Affected by Harvey
BATON ROUGE – Sarah Samad and Mohsin Dhukka were set to be married in one week’s time when Hurricane Harvey struck the Greater Houston area. Instead, given the devastation of the storm, the couple, along with their wedding planner Kat Creech, organized the wedding guests already in town to volunteer in helping the survivors.
The group soon became a more formalized effort called Recovery Houston, which helps connect homeowners and survivors with volunteers to assist with cleanup. From 30 wedding guests have come more than 1,000 people donating their time and energy to helping others with the Harvey fallout.
Among their ranks is 2014 LSU Construction Management graduate Bryan Wesley, who is an assistant project manager for D.E. Harvey Builders, one of the largest commercial contractors in the state of Texas. Wesley, whose family was not directly impacted by the hurricane, was looking for a way to help and posted his name to several volunteer websites. When the call came from Recovery Houston, he jumped in head-first.
“We’ve had folks come in to help us all the way from Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City, Atlanta, Baton Rouge and New Orleans,” Wesley said. “(One example), a couple of gentlemen flew in on Labor Day from Chicago with an envelope full of cash they raised to solely help Hurricane Harvey victims. Once they came across Recovery Houston, they said they had found the group they wanted to support by purchasing supplies needed for the week to help our volunteers muck out houses.”
Members of Recovery Houston work seven days a week and are dispatched at different times of the day. Volunteers work the hours they are able and willing to work, with some putting in 12 to 14 hours a day. Currently, they are only mucking out the houses – drywall demolition, removing baseboards and flooring, and removing waterlogged furniture and cabinetry – but plan to eventually move on to rebuilding. To date, they have worked on between 200 and 250 homes.
“We have literally walked in with homeowners as they look inside of their home for the first time,” Wesley said. “It is truly traumatizing for all parties involved. We’re here to provide a helping hand, a hug and some comfort, but some folks need more help than that. We are in the process of partnering with post-traumatic stress disorder/trauma therapists to further assist those in need.”
Current LSU Construction Management students have also joined the cause. Charles Farley, a senior from Metairie, La., traveled to Houston with four other students in the LSU Construction Student Association to deliver nearly $1,000 worth of supplies provided by the LSU Construction Industry Advisory Council, Tiger People Clothiers, the CSA and others.
They were also there to demo a mock wall they designed as an instructional tool for volunteers who had no prior experience in gutting a house.
“The mock-up wall was basically a single piece of drywall in a 2x4 frame,” Farley said. “It served as a big help because it allowed people to see how to use a laser level and chalk line, as well as how to score the sheetrock to pop it out.”
While there is still much work ahead, Wesley said he trusts that his fellow “LSU Tigers” have what it takes to get the job done.
“Between Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav and the August 2016 flood, this isn’t our first rodeo,” Wesley said. “Showing Houstonians that there are leaders from LSU willing to help during their time of need is critical. The great state of Louisiana and my alma mater, LSU, need to show Texans that they have neighbors able and willing to help.”
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