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Editorial: Kudos for hurricane relief efforts

  • Photo special to JCST A car filled with supplies headed to Texas to help with hurricane relief efforts.

We remember well the type of destruction a hurricane can bring. Hurricane Matthew ripped through the county last October, causing downed power lines and trees and flooded roads.

Thousands of people evacuated.

The Category 2 storm’s impact was so severe that Jasper County was deemed a natural disaster area.

But the community rallied to help each other as volunteer groups formed to offer food to those in need and businesses opened their doors despite not having much to offer.

Neighbors helped neighbors.

It’s no surprise then that the county acted last week to help when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and the Gulf Coast.

The Category 4 storm has devastated East Texas, dropping 51 inches of rain, forcing about 30,000 people into shelters and resulting in more than 30 deaths.

Ridgeland’s Chelsea Brendlen helped spearhead an initiative to help. Her daughter Allison used to play travel softball for the Beaufort Bombers, whose former assistant coach Lacey Garza and her husband Ray now live in Rockport, Texas.

The hurricane forced the couple to bring their three children (8, 11, 13 years old) back to the area to stay with their grandparents.

To help, Brendlen asked for supplies for the family and the Rockport community.

In less than 24 hours, bottled water, school supplies, diapers, canned food and disinfectant wipes filled the halls at Thomas Heyward Academy. Some of the supplies were for the children and the rest were being brought back to Texas to help those in Rockport.

“I think everybody remembers what we went through a year ago – Texas is a lot worse – but everybody’s just pitched in,” Brendlen said. “It’s a lot of stuff for such short notice.”

Brendlen said the community’s willingness to help was fortified by the memories of Hurricane Matthew.

“It’s still fresh in everybody’s minds,” she said.

The goodwill was fostered through other organizations, such as Faith Ridgeland, which on Sunday planned to have all offerings go to efforts for hurricane relief, and Great Swamp Baptist Church, which held a bake sale on Sunday with money intended to go to hurricane relief efforts. All Children’s Pediatrics in Ridgeland continues to take donations for supplies.

John Paul II Catholic School’s athletic department planned to send Golden Warriors T-shirts and other donations to the University of Houston for distribution to those in need.

We applaud the community’s efforts and wish those affected by the hurricane a safe recovery.

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