Watching video of the swollen Mississippi River flooding surrounding areas brought back memories. Two area sisters were reliving there own experiences when Bridge City went underwater with Hurricane Ike.

Unlike Ike, the flooding from the river is more extensive and longer lasting. With Ike, the water came and then it went, “just like a wave,” said Mark Dunn. Even with the speed the water receded in Bridge City, the damage was devastating.

The Mississippi River is just now cresting and starting to recede. Some people’s homes have been flooded as much as two weeks. Federal inspectors must determine if homes are habitable, before owners can re-enter them to retrieve what can be salvaged.

Paige Williams and Kim Hubbard knew what the people of Mississippi were going through. Hubbard felt she needed to do something to help; especially when it appeared news of the floods were being overshadowed by other events. They knew how hard it was to recover and get everything back like it was after Ike flooded Bridge City.

Hubbard called her sister and said, “I need to get some things together and take them to Mississippi.” Williams said Hubbard started calling around, but most places would only take monetary donations. “But the Salvation Army was open to anything,” said Williams. The Salvation Army had a donation location set up in Vicksburg, Miss.

Hubbard started gathering things to bring. She asked Williams, “Do you want to put a few things together? We’ll just drive it there.”

Williams has a daughter in Bridge City Middle School, so she talked to the campus administrator about the possibility of students bringing donations. “They kinda made it like a competition between the sixth, seventh and eighth grades,” said Williams; “to see who could fill up their box the fastest.” Williams said kids of that age work really well if you give them a little competition.

Williams then called Gina Mannino in administration to see if they could make this a district-wide event. She got it approved at the high school and the intermediate level. Those students have been bringing donations as well.

“We’re gonna go on the last day of school, pick everything up… and take it to the Salvation Army in Vicksburg,” said Williams.

The Salvation Army said they were really in need of toothbrushes, toothpaste and personal items such as hair brushes and toiletries.

“We’ve relayed that to the kids and they have really just taken the reins,” said Williams. “Those kids started bringing in tons of toothbrushes and toothpaste. They also started bringing in some clothing.” Williams said three gently used bicycles were donated at the middle school. Cleaning supplies, diapers and baby items are also needed.

“I’m hoping we can fit it in the bed of one truck. If not, then we’ll have to take two,” said Williams. “I don’t really know how much they have brought.” She said the eighth grade’s box overflowed and they had to bring in another box. They are also the grade that donated the bikes. Williams said she didn’t know what the sixth and seventh grades have done. “I know it’s been a big competition. We would not have near what we have if the kids hadn’t come through.”

Williams daughter, Claudia, is in the National Junior Honor Society. She said the NJHS sponsor requires members to work 18 hours of community service each semester. “I think that community service, the volunteering has really helped these kids, because [Claudia] said, ‘Mom, I want to go with you when they bring this.’ I don’t think she would have before, but she has been volunteering and helping me do so much around the community that it’s kinda changed her way of thinking.”

The Middle School students were also given a great incentive to participate. For bringing items in, they could have a grade of 30 or below dropped or they could have a grade of 100 added to their average.

Lisa Faulk was Williams contact at the Middle School. Williams said it was Faulk who encouraged the donation of the bicycles, plus she collected money donations from kids that did not get a chance to go to the store to buy things.

The sisters may leave Saturday, or wait until the beginning of next week since graduation is this weekend.

If someone would like to add to the donations being collected, they can contact Williams at 409-670-3192. “I will even go to their home to pick it up,” she said. Williams stressed they need cleaning supplies: bleach, buckets, gloves, towels, that kind of thing and also personal care items; brushes, combs, shampoo.

“As I recall, when we got flooded, at the Community Center, the things I got came from Alabama, so I guess we feel like we’re starting to spread it back that way,” said Williams.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.