Youth Forward scholarship summer 2016 – Team work during after a natural disaster

Name: Nima ShahabShahmir
From: Beckley, WV
Grade: Sophomore year in College, 2016
School: West Virginia University Institute of Technology
Votes: 0

Youth Forward
Scholarship 2016

I never did major volunteer work that I could recognize as a position
until after the West Virginia’s flood disaster on July 23rd, 2016.
Before that I have always been an active member of the church and
community, doing small works and activities to help the people around
me from transportation, cleaning, arranging for different events and
etc. But what our state and different counties experienced after
hours of heavy rain and thunderstorms was something you would only
imagine to see in disastrous scenes from a sci-fi movie. Storms that
resulted in flash floods was something no one was expecting.
Different houses floating down the main roads, some on fire while
others are only parts of a larger structure that once a family lived
in it. The amount of damage was so much that bridges and asphalt
roads had been washed away resulting in blocking all the
organizations from coming in to help the families in the area.

Being part of the Presbyterian Church USA, we cleaned many different houses
near the river where the water was so high during the storm that
washed off people’s yards, cars, and everything inside of their
houses; leaving nothing but mud and debris from the basements all the
way up to the top ground level. Our responsibilities were to go in
and work as a team to clean what was left in the house and pretty
much trash anything that the water had touched. Since the flood
washed many different types of chemicals from gas and diesel kept in
the houses, propane tanks and all sorts of trash there was absolutely
no reason to reuse the mattresses or clothes. But despite all the
difficulties, it was interesting to see how organizations such as Red
Cross helped people to restock all the necessity food, clothes, and
hygiene products through thousands of donations. Being also a member
of this group, I experience it first hand to sort out all the massive
amount of donations from the smallest things that you can imagine to
all sorts of shampoos, cleaning products, water, trash bags and both
men and women clothes for all ages so that all the members of the
community that once lost everything could come and pick up what they
needed for no charge.

The disaster was ugly, one can never understand the true power of water until seen in
person. Just walking down rivers for search and rescue with the local
groups, I saw unimaginable scenes. Cars and trucks roll so many times
that had turned into just a crumbled piece of metal. On the other
hand the beauty of everyone working in a form of one body and team to
establish and fix what was destroyed by the flood was so amazing to
experience. Working in a team taught me so much and I will always be
proud to be a member of all these organization to help rebuild the
flooded areas.

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