Students clean up after Hurricane Irene

During fall break, 18 students from Central College in Pella, Iowa, traveled to Esperance and Schoharie in New York to help clean up some of the destruction caused by Hurricane Irene in August. Kristin Tremper, coordinator of Reformed Church in America relations at Central, organized the trip and worked and traveled alongside the students.

The group left after classes Wednesday, Oct. 12 and drove through the night to reach New York. On Friday, they helped clean up the remains of destroyed homes on Priddle Camp Road in Esperance, trying to makes sense of the piles of houses the flooding from Irene left behind.

“There was nothing left to salvage,” said Tremper. The students moved garbage out into the street so that trucks could pick it up.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, students worked in Schoharie to muck mud out of basements and rip out ruined drywall. They got the opportunity to meet the homeowners and pray with them.  They also had worked with both the youth group and members from Bellevue Reformed Church in Schenectady, N.Y., as well as alumni Tom Patterson ’66, Glenn and Eileen Van Oort ‘62 and Brenna Autrey ‘99.

“A lot of these students came to Central for this reason—to serve other people,” said Tremper.

The Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Department, a few miles from Esperance, allowed the Central group to stay in their building and even provided a chicken barbeque for the students Saturday night. A donation from the Herkimer Reformed Church covered the cost of the meal. Christ’s Community Church in Clifton Park and Currytown Reformed Church in Sprakers also provided meals.

The trip wasn’t all hard work for the students. On Thursday, they did a ropes course, ziplining and a cave tour at Howe Caverns. They also hiked Vroman’s Nose and visited The Old Stone Fort, a revolutionary war museum in Schoharie where they were surprised to be greeted by alumnus Paul Ammerman ‘64.

“Our students are awesome,” said Tremper. “This was the best group I’ve ever been able to work with. It was a joy to get to know them.”

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