Marquette University students help Marianna woman with Hurricane Michael damage, repairs

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 14, 2019

MARIANNA, Fla. (WCTV) -- It's been more than 10 months since Hurricane Michael slammed into North Florida and South Georgia and many victims are still working to clean up and recover from the storm.

One Marianna woman who suffered damage to her house was not physically able to do much; the damage from Hurricane Michael remained, her yard continued to grow with parts of the grass up to five feet tall.

That all changed on Wednesday because of a group of college students.

The homeowner, who asked not to be identified, says she's grateful.

"I just want to get on my knees and pray and not stop," she said.

While the Marianna homeowner is on her knees giving prayers of thankfulness, a group of Marquette University students were on their knees cleaning up the mess Hurricane Michael left behind.

"A friend of mine told me, 'Just wait, God will send somebody.' And he has. I'm so glad," she said. "These kids are something else. They're awesome."

Trees fell on the house during the storm, forcing the woman and her dog to crawl out. The roof is still damaged and she still doesn't have plumbing.

14 Marquette students are doing what they can to reverse the devastation outside.

Mowing, clipping, trimming, cutting and piling debris.

"Whatever they need, whether it's removing debris from their house, if it's cleaning dishes, then we'll do it," said Marie Towns, one of the students. "We're not picky. We're here as a community not as an outsider, because this is 'we', this is not a 'them' problem.

This is the third time this year the group has visited the Florida Panhandle to help hurricane victims.

Marquette student Olivia Ward says it's sad to see families still in such dire need, some, she says, struggle to keep up their hope.

"Honestly, I feel like they provide hope for me," Ward said. "I don't want to come down here and say, 'Oh I'm helping people,' give me a pat on the back type of thing. It's more like when I come down here, I get more than I'm giving. If they get hope from that, then that's amazing."

The students are volunteering through an organization called Mission 850; a faith-based organization that started after Hurricane Michael to recruit volunteers across the nation to help those in the Florida Panhandle.

The mission coordinator says they've had more than 220 groups help so far.