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Georgia Southern mobilized resources to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew

When Hurricane Matthew displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left behind a trail of destruction in the coastal regions of Georgia, many families, organizations and people in need were left relying on the help of others. That’s when Georgia Southern University stepped in.

In addition to housing and feeding first responders and emergency personnel on campus during the storm, students, faculty and staff from a variety of University departments joined together to assist others from Jekyll Island to Metter, Georgia.

“The compassion of our students, faculty and staff is boundless,” said University President Jaimie Hebert, Ph.D. “Civility, kindness and collaboration are part of our core values. I am so proud of our campus community that immediately and wholeheartedly exemplified what Georgia Southern is all about by volunteering and supporting those in need.”

Nursing students help evacuate patients

When FEMA/CEMA called a mandatory evacuation from the Savannah area due to the potential impact of Hurricane Matthew, Peggy Mossholder, MSN, CHPN, assistant professor with Georgia Southern’s School of Nursing, was asked to coordinate the care of 12 patients from Hospice Savannah who urgently needed to be evacuated to Candler Hospital in Metter, Georgia.

With only three nurses to manage the hospice home care patient triage and care for 12 evacuated patients, Mossholder made the call for volunteer nurses. Seven Junior II and three Senior II nursing students from the School of Nursing responded to the call and assisted the hospice patients and staff of Hospice Savannah.

“Without the help of the nursing students, we would not have managed as well as we did during the emergency evacuation period,” said Mossholder. “As a member of the nursing faculty, I was pleased to have 10 students come to our aid and I have never been as proud of our students as I was during this adventure.”

Providing shelter to animals and staff from Georgia Sea Turtle Center

img_2819-2In the midst of Hurricane Matthew, residents of coastal Georgia were not the only ones taking to the evacuation routes. A gopher tortoise, diamondback terrapins, box turtles,sea turtles, additional turtles, an owl and a wood stork from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island took shelter on Georgia Southern University’s campus as the hurricane passed through the region.

In preparation for the storm, students, faculty and staff with Georgia Southern worked with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to assist with the relocation of approximately 80 of the Center’s animals to the University’s facilities and assisted in coordinating shelter for the Center’s staff and their families. More than 30 volunteers from several departments within the University’s College of Science and Mathematics, including biology, geology and geography, and physics, as well as staff from the University’s Physical Plant department and Office of Public Safety, worked to ensure a smooth transition for the animals to their storm shelter on campus.

“Evacuating 80 animals from our facility was a major undertaking and could not have been done without the help of others,” said Georgia Sea Turtle Center Director and Veterinarian, Terry Norton, DVM, Diplomate ACZM. “Georgia Southern University personnel and facilities were a critical part of making this effort successful. All animals returned to our facility in good shape and many of them have been subsequently released. We are very thankful to all our partners in this effort.”

The animals have returned to their home on Jekyll Island. Fortunately, the animals, staff and facility of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center weathered the storm without harm.

Georgia Southern University has led the longest-running, 28-year-old Sea Turtle Program at St. Catherines Island on the Georgia coast and works with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on research and education projects.

Photos and video of the evacuation are available on the Georgia Southern University Sea Turtle Program at St. Catherines Island Facebook page.

School psychology students deliver supplies for hurricane relief

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L-R: School psychology program graduate students Emily Cameron, Jessica Miller and Courtney Smith

When the storm’s destruction left many families to endure flooding, power outages, downed trees and the loss of valuable food and supplies, leaders from the Ed.S. School Psychology degree program and School Psychology Student Association (SPSA) in the University’s College of Education immediately knew they wanted to help.

“When we found out that many students and families in Savannah had been displaced from their homes in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, we coordinated a donation drive to aid in the storm relief efforts,” said Jessica Miller, graduate assistant for the school psychology program and volunteer coordinator for SPSA. “As aspiring school psychologists, we understand how difficult learning can be when a student’s basic needs are not being met.”

SPSA members and school psychology faculty reached out to Communities in Schools of Savannah and Silk Hope Church to see what they could do to help.

“With the help of the Georgia Southern community, we were able to collect more than 275 items to support families in Savannah,” said Miller. “We want to give a big thank you to everyone who contributed, your generosity is tremendously appreciated!”

On Friday, Oct. 21, Miller and several students from the school psychology program delivered four large boxes of clothing, school supplies, personal care items and non-perishable foods for students and families who were affected by the storm.

SPSA and the school psychology program partner together each spring and fall semester to coordinate a service project focusing on local schools or agencies that support children.

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