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Louisiana Relief Drive

Vanderbilt community donations help Louisiana flood victims

Story by Vanderbilt Hustler August 29th, 2016

Story by Sarah Friedman, News editor
Photos by Ziyi Liu, Photography Director

On Friday, August 26, Vanderbilt Athletics hosted a donation drive to help the victims of the catastrophic floods in Louisiana, which have damaged more than 100,000 homes, and killed 13 people.

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Nashville residents were encouraged to donate bottled water, clothing, school supplies, sheets, towels and blankets for those who lost their belongings in the floods. Geaux! Music Row, a local flood relief drive composed of Louisiana natives working on Music Row, partnered with Vanderbilt for the drive. The group provided a truck and agreed to drive the items down to Baton Rouge, where they will be distributed by the mayor’s office.

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Vanderbilt athletes and coaches volunteered by carrying the items from donors’ cars onto the truck.

“Nikki Fargas, who’s the head coach at LSU, her team and her staff have been working first-hand with the people who have been displaced, and so she’s communicating with me what people are without,” said associate head women’s basketball coach Carolyn Peck. “Mattresses are destroyed and have to be replaced, the linens you keep in the closet and take for granted have been ruined. People just need a lot.”

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“We were out helping with the efforts of rescuing people. We brought our boat from our house all the way up to Baton Rouge and we’re helping with that and then we traveled up here that next Monday,” said siad Eric Smith, who lives part time in Louisiana and part time in Nashville and helped to organize the drive. “Tuesday we were doing some meetings and I had some free time, and I started thinking about people, friends that were flooded and losing everything. So I picked up the phone and started making some phone calls asking “what can we do?”

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“I just keep thinking about it, what it will mean [to my friends and family back home],” Smith said. “Thinking about them working every day trying to clean up, get their lives back together. Seeing all these people come out to help, it’s all I can think about is those people that I’m close to and how many people, how many thousand-plus people, and in that same way, that’s what I keep thinking about.”

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Footnote: Baton Rouge photo credit: Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake via the US Department of Agriculture