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Iowa students give spring break to help S.C. flood survivors

Students from Iowa State University spent their spring break working on flood-damaged homes in North Charleston.

NORTH CHARLESTON – A group of Iowa State University students used spring break to volunteer in the North Charleston area with the Disaster Recovery Ministry of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.

A disabled veteran. A widowed grandmother raising three grandchildren. A single mom working two jobs. John Raimer can list family after family that has benefited this month from the work of Iowa State’s Associated General Contractors Student Organization.

“We depend on volunteers to repair homes damaged by the hurricane and flooding,” said Raimer, Disaster Recovery construction manager for the Charleston Area.

Want to help?

We need churches and communities to engage with Disaster Recovery Ministries as we respond to the needs of families across South Carolina. Want to volunteer? Here’s how:
1) Put together a team and assess your skills. Mission teams of any size and ability level are needed.
2) Identify a date or dates your team can volunteer.
3) Call Disaster Recovery at 803-888-3051 to confirm & arrange details.
4) Need more information? Email screcovery@umcsc.org.
5) Click here to read more about how to help Disaster Recovery Ministries.


The ISU construction engineering group volunteered to help families, many of whom had been waiting for help for a year and a half.


“For some families, this was the second time the house was flooded,” Raimer said, referring to the impact of the October 2015 floods and October 2016’s Hurricane Matthew. “For the community to see college students give of their time and talents really uplifts spirits and gives hope.”

Iowa State senior Kurtis Schreck, vice president of the student group, is a two-time coordinator of the spring break volunteer opportunities. A die-hard proponent of the trips, Schreck said he would encourage any classmate to get involved. After all, it’s the way he got hooked on AGC.

“I didn’t even do an AGC event before I went on a spring break trip my freshman year—both me and the current president,” Schreck says with a grin. “We went on the trip and had a great time. We happened to get a really good crew and built an entire home from foundation up in four days. That was the most fun thing ever for me!”

While volunteering in South Carolina during this year’s spring break, Schreck and his fellow students used their time to repair houses. They hope that, by mending holes in floors and leaks in roofs (or building a new roof), they can alleviate worry and allow homeowners some freedom to think beyond the basic needs of shelter.


“Growing up in an unsafe house can lead to unsafe housing becoming a norm,” Schreck explains. “Giving someone either a waterproof house or just one that doesn’t leak or doesn’t have holes in the floor lets that person focus on other parts of life.”

The trips offer an opportunity to network as well. This spring, AGC toured the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Clemson University student housing projects, both offered through industry relations at Holder Construction. These interactions between students and employers become “second nature,” as Schreck puts it.

“It opens so many opportunities,” Schreck says. “You meet so many contractors, and it’s so easy to talk to them once you’ve talked to a hundred of them.”

In all, 36 students completed nine projects (or nearly 1,700 hours of work) for families in the North Charleston area. This will be the last volunteer trip Schreck will organize, as he steps down from his role as vice president at the end of the year.

“I’ll miss the responsibility in planning the trip,” he says. “It’s really cool to leave my own mark on it.”

“This group is highly skilled and very organized,” Raimer says. “ … Your school should be very proud of what this group does.”

Story and main photo courtesy of Iowa State University. 


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