Southern Tier residents that were devastated by the September flood are still in desperate need of help in trying to put back together their lives and homes. For many college students it is hard to realize that only 3.5 miles away from campus, people are left with homes that received 4 feet of water on the first floor, no electricity, the loss of all their personal belongings, and for many the loss of hope. The damage caused by the flood in September of 2011 far exceeds anything anyone in this community was prepared for. However, several activities have taken part on campus to help with the flood relief efforts.
One student started a group on Facebook called “BU Students Help” in order to advise BU students of the opportunities to volunteer and information regarding flood cleanup in the surrounding areas. For the weekends since the flood, students have been going out into the community and trying to give back the best way that they can. The organized opportunities for students to assist the community have included: simply passing out water and cleaning supplies, setting up a food tent during the week and giving residents a home cooked meal, and helping residents clean out their homes. Despite these many weeks of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers across the community, the situation has in some cases even worsened for residents.
One such event that organized by the CCE took place over the Halloween weekend. On Saturday October 29, 2011 while many students were preparing for the Halloween weekend festivities, a group of Binghamton, SUNY Albany, and SUNY Cortland students came together and helped with flood relief efforts. Three groups were formed and each directed to either the Twin Orchards area of Vestal located off of Old Vestal Road, Conklin, or Johnson City communities. Students working in the Twin Orchards area were directed to a house of an elderly couple that could not clean their house and needed the help of others. This house, along with hundreds throughout the community, was completely ruined. Everything needed to be thrown out from the house, including all the couple’s clothes, appliances, furniture, pictures, walls, basically their lives of the past 60 years were thrown to the curb. In fact, even 2 months after the flood, there was still about a foot of water still lingering in the basement that needed to be drained.
It was a life-changing experience for the students that participated in the cleanup. The SUNY community was able to come together and make a difference in many people’s lives. The people in this community are still in desperate need for volunteers. Anyone who is willing to give a few hours of their time is encouraged to look into opportunities through the CCE or groups such as BU Student Help. Even as a college student, you can be the hope that so many Broome County residents need. Volunteering will be an eye-opening experience, but at the same time, an experience where you can make friends and contacts within the Southern Tier and the Binghamton University community.