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26 September 2005

JSU Student Moves from One Disaster to Another

Pictured here are Christy Hardin with fellow disaster relief worker Jerry Butler who heads up the clean-up recovery division of ABDR. Jerry is an expert with the chainsaw and does statewide training for chainsaw teams. This photo was taken in Biloxi, Miss., where everyday was a bad hair day, and most everyone wore yellow!

By Randy Wilson
JSU News Bureau

Jacksonville State University student Christy Hardin recently retuned from one disaster and is getting ready to depart for a second—which makes studying a challenge.

Mrs. Hardin recently returned from a stint with the Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief (ABDR) program, where she helped provide meals for Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Biloxi, Miss. Now she's getting ready to head out and help Hurricane Rita's evacuees.

Mrs. Hardin is in her last semester as a graduate student majoring in emergency management. She earned a bachelor's degree at Liberty University.

"The devastation down there is just tremendous," said Mrs. Hardin of the latest storm.  "I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help out."

The ABDR group is a part of a mass feeding team dispatched by the Southern Baptist Association. The SBA has several teams in the area and operates a mobile kitchen unit.

Mrs. Hardin operates a ham radio to provide communication and logistics support between the ABDR group and the other teams.

The mobile kitchen units are pulled by semi tractors. Once the mobile unit reaches its destination, it can be set up to feed up to 50,000 meals a day. Each unit has stoves and convection ovens, and the operation is self-sustaining.

Mrs. Hardin's unit is now waiting for deployment to the area affected by Hurricane Rita.

While deployed, Mrs. Hardin must also keep up with her class work and studies via an Internet connection.  In a disaster area, she often has no connection.

Life became so hectic she considered dropping her classes this semester but decided to stick it out because the classes she needs to graduate won't be offered in the spring semester.

"I do find my instructors to be very patient," said Mrs. Hardin. "They have been very accommodating for me."

She said she believes the virtual classroom has been very helpful for her studies. She usually arrives on the scene the second day after a disaster and finds that both participating in and observing the various response efforts has enhanced her learning at JSU.

"It just brings it all together, and helps me understand the usefulness of a tried and true response plan," said Christy.  "It also has helped me understand how small communities respond so differently from larger cities."

For more information about mass feeding units or how you can help, visit

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