Three SUNY Schools Unite to Take on Flood Recovery Efforts

Despite the threat of snow, Saturday October 29, 2011 was one of the largest flood relief efforts conducted by Binghamton University’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) since September’s tragedy.  70 student volunteers comprised of 27 from Binghamton University, 30 from SUNY Albany and 13 from SUNY Cortland aided in the relief efforts. Since the flood occurred, SUNY Cortland has been involved in multiple trips to the greater Binghamton area to aid in flood-recovery. Cortland’s Emergency Medical Services team has been particularly generous with their time. By September 11th, EMS Captain Austin Glickman, Chief Matt Green, EMS Volunteer Mike Holland and their team had provided aid to over 2,000 people at Binghamton University’s Events Center. This assistance was in response to a request from BU’s Harpur’s Ferry Student Volunteer EMS Service. Since that day, Glickman and his team have returned several times aiding in various projects.

 “It was really nice of the other schools to have driven from so far away to help aid in recovery,” said BU senior, Lindsie Alterman. “There is so much need right now and everyone can help with recovery in some way. For me, helping is an easy decision to make. You feel like you really made a difference.”

Since the flood occurred, the CCE has coordinated nine clean-up trips with the First Presbyterian Church’s Flood Recovery Coordinator, Jim Byron. 

“I get a lot of compliments from homeowners about the work that the students have done,” says Byron. “They talk about being impressed with not only how hard the students work but also the amount of work they accomplish so quickly!”

Each Saturday, since September 23, 2011, The First Presbyterian Church has provided shuttles for Binghamton University students to various clean-up sites across all of Broome County. This past trip was no different—besides the extra sets of hands.

 “The groups were split up into three and sent to the three First Presbyterian Churches in Endicott, Conklin, and Johnson City. From there, students were broken into smaller teams and sent out to sites throughout the designated areas. After the cleanup, we all reconvened [and ate lunch together].”

 Many of the Binghamton University students who volunteered on the 29th have participated in multiple clean up trips; however, this trip felt different in that they were able to see the reactions of students from schools who were viewing the devastation for the first time.

“This was my fourth time volunteering for flood recovery but most of these students from other schools had yet to see the damage from the flood,” said Alysia Siegel, Binghamton University senior. “It was a wakeup call for many.  Just because the water is gone doesn’t mean that the work is done.” 

The CCE and the First Presbyterian Church will continue to work together in the coming weeks; however, a shift in efforts may take place now that much of the initial clean-up is coming to an end. 

“Our job isn’t over,” said Byron. “In the next few weeks, the First Presbyterian Church will assume a different role in other areas of recovery but our need for help is still just as great.”

Needless to say, October 29, 2011 was a huge success. The CCE would like to thank First Presbyterian Church, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Albany, and Binghamton University for making it happen.

"The event that took place last Saturday was a testament to human empathy and recognizing when a neighbor is in need," said Joe Garrant, a Binghamton University sophomore who has been volunteering since the initial flooding began. "These are model students who probably don't even realize their contribution. But those people whose homes were destroyed, they see it and will be forever grateful for what a handful of students did one Saturday afternoon."

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