Mark A. Schexnayder, Hardesty, Amanda, Morgan, Johnny W. | 7/28/2006 11:49:34 PM
When LSU AgCenter Hurricane Recovery Coordinator Mark Schexnayder hosted a group of volunteers from Ohio State University in December, he had no idea one of them would soon become a coworker.
But that’s the way it turned out when Amanda Hardesty took on the task of volunteer coordinator with Louisiana Sea Grant and settled into sharing office space with other LSU AgCenter personnel in Jefferson Parish.
Hardesty was one of 30 students who spent the week of Dec. 11-17 in Louisiana helping some of the businesses in the area get back up and running after Hurricane Katrina.
Schexnayder said he didn’t know what to say when Hardesty said she wanted to come down and begin working with the volunteer groups.
"I knew we needed the help, and even though she is paid by LSU Sea Grant, she is definitely a part of the LSU AgCenter team," Schexnayder said, adding, "She is doing a great job, which takes some of the pressure off me."
Hardesty said she was in her last semester in college when she came down to help out. After seeing the amount of devastation the storm caused, she said she knew she had to do more.
Her most-recent project was to help Lionel Serigne of Delacroix get his boat launch business back open.
Hardesty said Serigne’s was one of the most-popular launching spots for local anglers before Katrina, but the storm did extensive damage to the business.
Serigne said Katrina took the whole building down, and he’s been forced to rebuild without much help, since he’s never had insurance on the business. He said he was putting in windows when Hardesty stopped by earlier this month.
"She told me to put down my hammer. I told her I’ve got to get this work done. She said put down the hammer – I’m going to get you some help here," Serigne said. "I asked her if she was joking. She said go and get the materials and I’ll have some help here Saturday (July 22)."
In what has been Hardesty’s story for the past four months, getting help there on July 22 was exactly what she did.
Her routine involves looking for those in need of help and then finding volunteers to come in and do the needed work.
Serigne said his sons were working for FEMA, and he couldn’t ask them to leave their jobs to help him.
"The help that I’m receiving here is definitely a shot in the arm," he said while the volunteers were working recently. "It looks like we might finish the major work today."
Serigne said he’s just waiting for the filtration system for his live bait tank and that he hopes to be back in business within the next three weeks.
To find out how you can volunteer to help Hardesty in the recovery effort, visit her Web site at www.we-kare.org. To learn more about the LSU AgCenter and its variety of programs related to hurricane preparation and recovery, as well as efforts on subjects ranging from lawns and gardens to food and health, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.