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Senior uses her language skills help after Hurricane Harvey

Senior+Annie+Murillo+volunteered+at+NRG+Stadium+after+Hurricane+Harvey.
Senior Annie Murillo volunteered at NRG Stadium after Hurricane Harvey.

Senior Annie Murillo volunteered at NRG Stadium after Hurricane Harvey.

Senior Annie Murillo volunteered at NRG Stadium after Hurricane Harvey.

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In September, Hurricane Harvey made history as the wettest storm in the U.S., dethroning Tropical Storm Amelia, who held the spot for nearly 40 years. 82 people were killed, 60,000 were displaced, and damage amounted to nearly 180 billion dollars. In the aftermath of the storm, the response was huge, with thousands of organizations and individuals donating their time and money towards the long road of recovery that Houston had ahead. Senior Annie Murillo was inspired to help with recovery efforts by the destruction she saw.

“Harvey was horrible, Murillo said. “No one expected it to be as bad as it was. I didn’t expect it to be that bad. At first I thought, ‘This is just a small hurricane’ because it wasn’t that windy and it wasn’t raining that hard, but the rain just kept on falling from the sky. When I started watching the news, I realized immediately that I needed to help the people I saw on there.”

Murillo took action to make herself useful as soon as she could.

“I wanted to contribute in some way, but I knew I couldn’t go out into the street and just help people. After the hurricane, an easy way and efficient way to volunteer was to go to the NRG center. From there, disaster aid officials coordinated volunteers where they need them the most.”

Volunteers at NRG had a wide range of tasks that needed to be done, from sorting clothing donations to arranging bedding. Murillo found a non-traditional way to utilize her skill set and help as many people as possible.

“Since I’m fluent in English and Spanish, they placed me as a translator for people who wanted to register for assistance from FEMA, so I helped people register to get placement in NRG and help after their stay at NRG.”

According to the Department of homeland security website, FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency is a US government agency that aims to “support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.” Specifically, the agency handed out $502,344,847.39 worth of public assistance grants and has approved 361,075 individual assistance applications to date.

“Helping people apply to FEMA was especially important for me, as I could feel the pain that many of the families I spoke with were going through,” Murillo said. “Many of them were first generation families who had just lost everything.  It really comforted me knowing that I was helping these people take the first step to rebuild.”

Murillo believed that the school’s language program gave her the confidence to offer up her skills to help. She thanked AP Spanish Language teacher Margery Laufe for her ability to help families after the storm.

“Even though Spanish was my first language, taking AP Spanish 4 helped me with the grammar and technical side of Spanish especially because the Spanish I speak at home is a lot more casual.”

Murillo believed that having the opportunity to volunteer and offer up her services were both rewarding and eye-opening. She encouraged others to follow her example.

“If you don’t think you have any useful skills that could benefit the community, you’re probably not looking hard enough,” Murillo said. “Everyone has something, you just have to be creative and have an open-mind about it.”

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Senior uses her language skills help after Hurricane Harvey