‘THERE’S NOTHING’: Troy raising donations for disaster relief

Published 4:56 pm Saturday, October 13, 2018

“There’s nothing. No one has anything.”

After three hours without contact, Troy University student Kristen Humphreys was just glad to hear her brother’s voice and know that he was still alive.

Humphreys’ sister, brother and father were all in Panama City Wednesday when Hurricane Michael made landfall as a historic category 4 storm, the most intense system to ever hit the Florida panhandle.

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“I was terrified when they stopped replying,” Humphreys said.

Her dad and brother were both in her dad’s apartment when a tornado hit nearby and brought the roof down right beside them. Her sister was working in the emergency room during the storm. Humphreys said they still don’t know the condition of her mother’s house, but her childhood home they had just moved from was completely destroyed by the storm, as well as the high school she attended before coming to Troy.

When her family was finally able to get back in touch with her and let her know they were safe, Humphreys said she felt led to do something to help so many others in the area that are in need after the storm.

“I’ve been so blessed, I felt like I could do something more than just sit here,” Humphreys said.

Troy University has come behind Humphreys for a campus-wide drive to collect donations and take them down to storm-struck areas.

“Hurricane Michael dealt a devastating blow to many areas that our students and their families live,” said Herb Reeves, dean of student services and EMA Director for Pike County. “The University community wants to help all affected by this disaster as much as possible.”

Humphreys and the SGA held a meeting Friday afternoon to speak with individuals and other campus organizations that want to join the drive, with over a dozen different organizations coming together to help out.

“Other people or organizations that are going down can come and get stuff from the office or if other organizations don’t have space to store donations we can hold it for them,” said Morgan Long, vice president of campus activities at Troy. “We’re trying to organize everybody so we’re all working together and not getting in anyone’s way.”

There are several ways that the students and the Pike County community can help.

“One way is to offer your hands and feet,” Humphreys said. “You can volunteer in Dothan this Saturday. The LDS church is organizing a volunteer effort and you can go to the church on Saturday and volunteer. Be there by 8 a.m. and bring work gloves.”

Items can also be donated at the SGA office at Troy University by Thursday, October 18, at noon to be brought to the Florida panhandle on Saturday, October 20.

The Troy University drive is one of many that have begun within the Pike County community.

Troy resident Jay Strickland, who had lived in Panama City for the last 15 years, is planning a trip next weekend to bring down donations and assist in the cleanup. Donations for his trip can now be dropped off at both Piggly Wiggly locations in Troy.

“We always like to be able to help people and we have the place for people to drop it off,” said Jennifer Carnley Garrett, owner of both locations. “It’s just a good way to know it’s going to get where it belongs, knowing that he’s going to get it there.”

The items can be dropped off inside both stores during regular store hours.

Strickland said friends in the affected area have specifically asked for people to send cheap charcoal grills as an item of need.

Karla and Gabe Renfroe and friends from the Stills Crossroads community will be in the Lowe’s parking lot from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday morning to collect full gas cans to take down from Blountstown to Port St. Joe.

“Gas is needed for generators, chain saws and equipment, even cars,” Karla said. “There is no gas available to them.”

Some of the necessities that are most needed during the aftermath of the storm include:

• Portable phone chargers

• AA and AAA batteries

• Bottled water

• Gallons of water

• Toiletries (travel size shampoo and conditioner, body wash, shaving razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc).

• Utility gloves

• Diapers

• Baby wipes

• Baby food

• Sleeping bags

• Dog food

• Cat food

• Protein bars

• Trash bags

• Feminine products

• First aid (bandages, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, gauze, etc).

• Masks

• Gatorade

“Thank you to everyone who has offered their money or time,” Humphreys said. “It means the world to everyone who was affected by Hurricane Michael. We are wanting to cover as many areas as possible, especially helping our own Troy families who have suffered great loss.”