Maryville Loves Perryville

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We have all thought “that will never happen to me,” at least once in our lives. However, for Maryville student Karly Huber, it was the exact opposite. On the evening of February 28, 2017, an EF4 tornado hit the northeastern portion of Perry County, Missouri, leveling the homes of many. According to Perryville Mayor Ken Baer, “At least 30 and as many as 60 [homes] would be considered leveled to their foundation. Sixty families lost just about everything.”

One of these homes belonged to the Huber family. When asked about how she felt the night of the tornado, Karly Huber said, “We knew bad weather was going to hit, but you never think that it’s going to be you as the victim. I was trying to get ahold of my parents, but they weren’t answering. But I just thought, it’s okay they just aren’t answering. It was a real shock.”

Maryville University is well-attended by Perryville residents and had been for many years due to the quality of the Health Science programs, as well as the fact that it is only 90 miles south of St. Louis. It was no surprise that a Maryville student was affected by the tornado. Knowing that, Maryville did what it does best— banded together to help those in need. After all, one team, one family.

President Lombardi sent out a campus-wide email the following day of the tornado addressing the concerns some Maryville students may have had about the resources provided for them on campus and what was being done to help those affected regardless of whether or not they were Maryville students or alumni. In his email, President Lombardi stated, “Maryville is a community that comes together in times of need.” As both a resident of Perryville and a student at Maryville, I could not agree with this statement more.

The night of the tornado, Jennifer McCluskey, vice president for Student Success and Perryville native, personally contacted each Perryville student and asked if their families had been affected. She then offered Maryville assistance in the way of on-campus counseling. The following day, McCluskey invited us to a meeting to discuss possible relief activities that could be held on campus. Not only did 20 Perryville students attend the meeting, but Christian Kjaersgaard, a soccer player from Sweden, also attended the meeting to find out if there was anything the soccer team could do to help.

Maryville students volunteer to help the Huber family. Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Steiner.

It’s was decided at the meeting to put bins around campus to collect donations such as nonperishable goods, personal hygiene products and laundry supplies. The bins were placed in each of the residence halls, as well as Buder, Gander, Simon, the DUC and the library on March 3. Within ten days, they had collected an entire van full of supplies to be delivered to Huber to be distributed to other victims of the tornado.

The van used to transport supplies to Perryville. Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Steiner.

On March 13, the first day of spring break, McCluskey and several students loaded the donations into a Maryville University van and delivered them to Perryville for those in need. “It was amazing,” Huber said. “I didn’t know if any other Maryville students had been affected. We were very appreciative of their help. Right now we’re still kinda figuring it all out.”

It is important to exercise caution during dangerous weather. Downloading weather apps, keeping your phone charged and keeping in touch with you family members is a great way to stay as safe as possible. But in the event of a weather crisis, Maryville will always be here to provide its support.

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