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Students write about Matthew to cope with loss

October 21, 2016

Most adults will remember Hurricane Matthew for its heavy rains and subsequent flooding, but children have their own memories of the storm, so Cumberland County teachers and school counselors are letting students express the impact of the storm in various ways.

At Reid Ross Classical School, for example, sixth-graders are writing about Matthew to help them deal with their emotions and any personal losses.

“If it wasn’t for that second tree, the big tree would have sliced our house in half,” Cameron Davis read from his assignment.

“In the morning, we noticed that our swing set had fallen down and branches were everywhere,” Kaytia Wigal wrote.

“Two days after the storm, I went to my Nana’s house, and on the way, we saw lots of places with lots of water,” Melina Wells wrote.

Nekaiyel Hampton recalled how a tree knocked down by the storm’s winds and rain destroyed his home.

“I heard a loud crack followed by three loud thuds. When my family got out of bed, I saw three big trees, and one destroyed the kitchen,” he wrote. “Not even five minutes after we left, the ceiling collapsed in all rooms except for the bathroom and my mom’s room.”

Some of the students have been overwhelmed by emotion as they deal with their recollections. Counselors had them write good and bad memories on balloons to help them let go.

“They’re always going to hold on to it,” counselor Elizabeth Linville said. “It’s not just going to go away for years. So, we’re going to have to learn to work through it and maybe help other people in the process.”

Reid Ross Principal Tom Hatch said some of his students lost everything yet come to school every day with smiles on their faces, showing their resilience.

“At least we’re able to recover, and hopefully we’ll be able to recover quickly and everybody will have a place to live, and they’ll have food on the table and clothes on their backs,” Nekaiyel wrote.