BELTON, TX — As Hurricane Sally draws closer to the coast, school districts across Texas are preparing for an influx of displaced students and their families.
Belton ISD is helping those impacted by Hurricane Laura through Project Heartbeat. The program is designed to provide a sense of normalcy for displaced youth in the Belton community, but with families seeking shelter after major hurricanes like Laura, program organizers say their doors are open.
“I knew that we were going to stay here because there is nothing left at home,” said Candace McCarthy, a Hurricane Laura evacuee.
Her car, her home, her life’s work gone within hours of evacuating Louisiana. After initially fleeing to Colorado, McCarthy and her daughter, Adalyn L’Argent, made their way to Temple, Texas, to be closer to family. Very quickly she found another family through the Temple Mom‘s Facebook page.
“It made all of my anxiety go away knowing that there was help out there," said McCarthy.
With their help, she connected with Christina Wilson with the Belton ISD Project Heartbeat.
“When I met Ms. Wilson through Project Heartbeat, she just was so sweet and she just took over from there,” said McCarthy.
“Let’s get these kids in school and learning and not missing a day of education,” said Christina Wilson.
For years Wilson and her team have been working to ensure that kids still get a sense of normalcy even amid disaster. Wilson says she’s in constant contact with the districts registrar to ensure parents who've lost everything never have to worry about a thing.
"We want the parents to know that we’re taking care of the kids and the kids are just being kids just let them be kids," she said.
“It’s my favorite school,” said McCarthy's daughter.
"She loves her new school. She’s adjusting very well. They’ve made this process so easy,” said McCarthy.
“It’s got to be tough to start over but we’re going to be there to support them,” added Wilson.
Wilson says they are always looking for community donations year-round to support the students and their families who have been displaced.
McCarthy says she's thankful that everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. She says she hopes when she gets on her feet, she can help out with Project Heartbeat to give back to the community that has been so good to her.