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The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season marked the third consecutive year of above-average damaging hurricanes. There were fifteen named storms and two category four hurricanes which both produced extensive, irreparable damage to structures and livelihoods. 

The destruction left behind by the first category four hurricane, Hurricane Florence, left the Carolinas in a state of disaster and need. Several thousand miles away, just a few weeks after the fall school term had begun, senior Pruette Karl independently began organizing a group of student volunteers, in coordination with her church group, to find a way to help. 


This volunteer trip was far from glamorous as it involved many hours of manual labor clearing uprooted trees and plant debris from neighborhoods, roads and houses. The work was dirty, sweaty and difficult.  


While this group of student volunteers was busy cleaning up from Hurricane Florence in North Carolina, news reports came in about the second category four hurricane of the season, Hurricane Michael. Rather than creating a feeling of despair, the reports and reality of the destruction in southern Florida created quite the opposite effect on these Delphians. 

Their muscles still sore from Hurricane Florence cleanup, several of the students returning to the Delphian campus from North Carolina took just enough of a break to organize a new group of volunteers and then headed out to southern Florida to help with relief efforts where Hurricane Michael had just ended. 

Riley Crowman and Sophia Correa Martinez clearing fallen tree debris.

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 Felix Forslund and other volunteers clearing   debris from around a displaced plane. 

Quinn, a student volunteer on the Hurricane Florence relief trip and co-organizer for the Hurricane Michael relief trip, explained the feeling: “After spending over a week sweating for hours every day working to improve conditions in North Carolina, there was no way for me to just go back to my life at Delphian while there were people struggling in Florida. I had to go help.”


The conditions in Florida were rough. Branches, scrap metal and wood debris piled higher than the volunteer transport vans. Buildings were completely obliterated, and those still standing had missing roofs and walls. Modern conveniences like plumbing and electricity had not yet been re-established in large areas of the destruction. “But this did nothing to discourage us,” explained Quinn. “If anything, it drove us harder to do our utmost to raise conditions in the area. Even as we were there, conditions improved.”

 Felix Forslund and other volunteers clearing   debris from around a displaced plane. 

 Seamus O’Beirne   and  Pruette Karl  clearing  metal scraps .  

Carson Wagner, Jax Lutton, Emma Aaron and 

Echo Wu fixing a roof.

Simon Yen and Quinn Bennett cleaning up a trailer park  

Quinn summarized the volunteer experience as follows:

“One of the most beautiful things that I saw in this trip was the impact that we made indirectly, simply through our presence and work ethic. At each work site we went to, I saw other people start helping as well. At a trailer park we spent a few days cleaning up, there were people that came out and brought any tools they had and all began to help each other out. 

“At one park we cleaned up, I saw the people in many of the neighboring properties begin cleaning up as well. People would bring us water and snacks, or come out and simply thank us for what we were doing. There was nobody using the common politenesses and pretenses of social interactions; every communication I received was genuine and positive, and that was truly beautiful.

“Through volunteering, my world has expanded. My capabilities have increased. My tolerance for rough conditions has risen. My life has become brighter when I’m helping people. My life as a high school student isn’t limited to the day-to-day academics and extracurriculars of many high school students. It’s rich with sports, science projects, student council, school plays, and most importantly, helping people.”