By Julia Ferrante
LEWISBURG, Pa. - More than a dozen Bucknell University students - including some who traveled to New Orleans this winter to help with the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort - put their skills to work closer to home last weekend, installing sheetrock, spackling walls and removing mold from flood-damaged homes in Bloomsburg.
It has been six months since heavy rain and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee caused the worst flooding along the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania in more than three decades. Still, thousands of families have not moved back into their homes. Others are living in the upstairs quarters as they renovate below.
Senior Rachel Paston, who was part of Bucknell's Katrina Recovery Team in January, was among several students who installed drywall in Marc Champoux's house on Poplar Street Saturday under the direction of volunteers from the Agape disaster relief organization. Bucknell's Office of Civic Engagement, which organizes the Katrina trips, coordinated Saturday's volunteer effort. || See related story, video and slideshow.
"We had a whole week of training in New Orleans, so it's great to be able to use our skills, which other volunteers might not have," said Paston, a senior neuroscience major.
Casey Coffman, a sophomore management major, and several others spent the day mudding the walls of another flood-damaged house near Bloomsburg.
"I have been involved in the volunteering in the local community for a while, and it's nice to bring what we did in New Orleans back here," she said.
Champoux, a case worker with the state Department of Public Welfare, had to move out of his house for more than two months after the first floor was damaged by nearly three feet of water. He received a settlement from his insurance company and got some help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency but he could not afford to fully rebuild his home, he said. He contacted Agape for help installing drywall.
"I could afford the drywall, but not the labor to install it," Champoux said. "This means the world to me. It means I get my life back."
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