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Flood Relief: James McCullum ’15 Lends a Hand

When the floodwaters from the August storms in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, finally receded, James McCullum was one of many volunteers to head to the devastated region. A member of the Maryland-based Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team, he connected with the St. Bernard Project to help gut homes damaged by the flooding.

James, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2015 with a major in geology, said in an interview with the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, “The media likes a big, catchy headline and story, like a hurricane or another big disaster. This was just a lot of rain, and I don’t think it got the attention it deserved.”

During his trip, he visited a Federal Emergency Management Agency relief camp in East Baton Rouge and also volunteered at the River Center, a downtown arena that was being used as a shelter run by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services with help from the American Red Cross.

“Listening to people tell their stories was extremely difficult,” James said. “I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and trying to be there for these people was hard.”

He hopes more volunteers will travel to Louisiana to assist with the region’s recovery. “These are our fellow human beings, and they need our help,” James said. “And who knows, one day it may be us asking for help from others.”

After his trip, James returned to Albany, Maine, where he is taking community college classes as prerequisites for attending medical school.

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