A team of University of Oklahoma Construction Science students traveled to Houston in September to aid in the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Twenty-two students and Ben F. Bigelow, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of OU’s Construction Science Division, made the trip to assist families impacted by devastating flooding.

While in Houston, the OU students assisted 10 different families with tasks from removing drywall all the way to demolishing a collapsed sunroom. The people they met and helped in Houston were ones who simply couldn’t help themselves, Bigelow said. One was a woman bound to a wheelchair and another with severe cerebral palsy.

“While the students got a good experience using tools and seeing a bit of how a house goes together, perhaps the greatest education came from them seeing the need and poverty of so many,” Dr. Bigelow said. “For most of them, they have never been outside of the relatively prosperous suburbs they grew up in, and we worked primarily in some very poor neighborhoods.”

Architecture freshman Chanae Carter told OU journalist Jadyn Watson-Fisher she’s thankful for the opportunity to do something meaningful for others..

“For me, it (was) about going and serving wherever needed,” Carter said. “It wasn’t the most glamorous job. It wasn’t super exciting, but it was so necessary and practical to hands-on help these people start over.”

Bigelow reached out to the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association to assist in the relief efforts.

“This was a perfect opportunity for our association to help our Texas neighbors,” said Dan Reeves, OSHBA president. “So many give to worthwhile charities like the Salvation Army and the Red Cross, but a challenge for an association is how to help in a way the touches our industry. Helping our student chapter provide relief in a learning environment was a great fit.”

Donors who made the trips possible were: OHSBA, The Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma, Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association, Windstone Construction, Accent Glass, McClain Bank, Haworth Homes, CA McCarty Construction, Da Vinci Homes, Custom Builders of Oklahoma, Trinity Hearth & Homes, Patrick O’Dooley and Westpoint Homes.