At Waynesburg University, service is a big part of what students do in their time at the school. Early in the curriculum, it’s through what’s known as “Fiat Lux,” which is a course that freshmen go through to fulfill part of their service requirements. However, students are encouraged to do more in the community and abroad.
Myah Hrinko, a sophomore digital design major, is one of those who recently served abroad. After Hurricane Ida swept through the country, she went to New Orleans, Louisiana to help with the cleanup efforts. She didn’t even plan on going until some family members that live down there called her and asked for her help.
“It sprung about fairly quickly,” she said. “I really didn’t have any plans to. It was completely last minute. They told me on a Monday, I booked a flight on a Tuesday.”
She flew down to her family in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Friday, Sept. 10. The town itself was still recovering from being hit by three hurricanes last year, a recovery effort that Hrinko went down for as well. But this time, her sights were on New Orleans.
As she and her family drove the four-hour trip, she could see the damage get increasingly worse. “It was like the trash pile on the way to the dumpster. It keeps building up and building up and building up. And I was like, ‘Am I going to be able to make an impact on these people?’”
For about thirteen hours over the next two days, Hrinko helped in various ways, such as clearing debris, searching for lost pets, and talking with the local people. It was this last one that was the most difficult of all.
“I’m a very emotional person, which I’m sure someone will see at some point. It was so hard to hear these people just speak about their everyday life and then go and rummage through their homes that are on the ground. That was probably the hardest part.”
Despite not knowing her full name, or her knowing all of their names, the people of New Orleans were always showing their appreciation for her help. “They were just open arms, so willing to accept what I had to bring, and I was so willing to stay open enough to hear their story and what they went through.”
She stayed there to help until Monday, Sept. 13, when she regretfully had to leave and get back to Waynesburg. “I just wish I could have given them more time because they were definitely appreciative of it, and it definitely looks like it’s speeding up the processing of helping clean up.”
“It takes a long time [to clean up]. I don’t think that people see that a lot…. It’s just a really slow process. A really slow, decrepit, sad process, and they need all the help they can get.”
If you wish to donate to the Hurricane Ida relief cause, there are several resources to do so. The American Red Cross and FEMA are both accepting donations, as well as Louisiana based organizations such as Second Harvest Food Bank. Links to these resources can be found below.