A group from Florida Gulf Coast University is helping make spirits brights after Hurricane Irma.
The university’s Marieb Psychological First Aid team showed up Friday at Everglades City School on East School Drive to deliver disaster relief to students affected by the storm.
“We just want to show them that we’re here and we’re supporting them. We’re hoping they’re going to continue moving forward,” FGCU Professor Dr. Alice Bartley said.
The psychological first aid team is made up of a group of trained students, staff and faculty that go into surrounding communities to also provide psychological help.
Principal Jim Ragusa started helping his school rebuild nearly three months ago after floodwater swamped buildings on campus and ruined equipment.
“They’re making progress, including the stage which has a new drywall, but the floors in the gym need to be replaced along with the bleachers,” Ragusa said.
About 55 of 195 students at the school were displaced after the storm, according to Ragusa.
“These types of experiences for kids are always a challenge,” Ragusa said.
The first aid team donated sporting goods for the school gym and offered psychological help to kids who have been through a lot.
“This is our home. This is our community, and we all want to work together to make this the best place it can be,” Bartley said.
Ragusa says he’s gotten calls offering help from Virginia, New York and Canada. He’s doing whatever it takes to keep the kids in class.
“People like FGCU’s group coming in … I think that builds a connection in the community and you feel like you’re not alone down here,” Ragusa said.