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Raymond and Russell were the first to attempt to assess the damage, but the water was still too deep for them to make it down the streets to their house. Once the water receded, the Thomas men went to their home, and this is when the brothers saw for the first time their father struck with pain and disbelief. It was devastating. They saw debris wedged in trees, mudcovered roads clogged with cars as people poured back to see what was left of their homes. When they opened the front door, they saw the main floor swamped, signs that flood water reached more than two feet on the first floor, totally destroying his 11-year old sister’s room. Their hearts sank seeing unsalvageable photo albums, family heirlooms, clothes and furniture, and Eagle Scout (for all four boys) and Girl Scout Awards, camping supplies, business attire, toys, and vehicles. But the one thing that hit them the hardest was to see all their homeschool and university books destroyed. Because of the strong values, Russell found himself coming to grips with losing his first vehicle, purchased with his earnings from his internship. Russell stated, “In my family, a car represents more than transportation. It’s the formation of independence and maturation into adulthood.” Through all of this, families are encouraged by others to fill their minds with active, positive feelings. The elder Thomas stated, “I just realized that there is no way to really be prepared for something like this. How do you prepare to replace your entire life in a single day?” Nonetheless, he wants to protect his children and knows that the odds are that they will face another crisis of their own. He wants them to remember how they survived, even thrived, after losing a lot and to never fall in love with something that can not love them back. The storm left Raymond traumatized at the loss of material things; yet, he found hope. The emotional upheaval caused him to turn to the University’s resources for counseling services. His awareness of the need for additional emotional support and astuteness to focus on mental stability are testaments to this young man’s character.

As families rebuild, they must depend on their belief. The belief that there is a larger plan for us all. It is a time to pull strength and courage from this fable regarding a clay pot with a crack: No matter how many times it was filled, the water still leaked from it, but the carrier of the pot never lost hope. Indeed, he planted flower seeds so as the water dripped, the flowers grew and added beauty and color. This fable illustrates there is a purpose in everything. To support the immediate needs of students, faculty and staff who had been adversely affected by the hurricane, Interim President Ruth Simmons established “The PVAMU Hurricane Relief Fund”. Small grants of $500 were available to assist with emergency needs. To support the effort, H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt donated $100,000 to students, saying, “While many have lost so much, making it possible for students to remain in school is absolutely essential and is a critical step in rebuilding our communities.” Raymond and Russell both received assistance from the University’s relief aid. The Thomas’ are considered part of the CAHS family. They participated in the ACCESS Summer Bridge Program, 4-H workshops, Research Extension Apprentice Program (REAP), Summer Research Experience Program (SREP), Partnership & Outreach Summer camps (chess and Chinese), as well as in math and engineering camps on campus. PVAMU is more than an institution of higher learning, it is a family. And with all families, no matter how rough the tides get, we weather storms together. While ‘disaster, devastation, and destruction’ are terms used by many following Hurricane Harvey, ‘hope, trust, and belief’ are a few words revealing how students, faculty, and staff in the CAHS persevere. Submitted by Kelley A. Redmon, Communications Specialist

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Profile for PVAMUCAHS

The Tri-Ag, October 2017  

Prairie View A&M University College of Agriculture and Human Sciences Triag Magazine showcases the tripartite of the college through its Res...

The Tri-Ag, October 2017  

Prairie View A&M University College of Agriculture and Human Sciences Triag Magazine showcases the tripartite of the college through its Res...

Profile for pvamucahs