Local efforts to help Irene victims

Kaitlyn Coogan

Equinox Staff


Hurricane Irene seemed more like a little rainstorm to residents of Keene but the people of Vermont witnessed Irene’s wrath as it tore its way through their towns and homes.

Vermont has not been hit this badly since 1927. People’s homes were flooded and torn from the ground while roads and bridges were ripped to pieces, making them seem like nothing more than wet paper.

Some Keene citizens had no idea what was happening to towns only 20 minutes away until it was too late.

Many people still have no idea of the destruction still occurring from Hurricane Irene. On a survey of five students only three know about the destruction still occurring because of the disaster.

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Many cities in Vermont sit surrounded by broken buildings and water, waiting for supplies they themselves cannot get.

Coordinator of Wellness Education Tiffany Mathews volunteered in  her free time in Bellows Falls by running a supply drive. “I didn’t realize the destruction would continue after the storm. I didn’t realize how a flood can ruin a town and a county,” she said.

Now Mathews visits websites on Facebook such as VT Flood Relief & Recover, VT Flooding 2011, and Irene Flood Drive to find out ways to help communities in need.

She has also started a group on Facebook called Businesses Involved in Giving Help to Vermont (BIG help VT) where she goes to local businesses collecting money and other essential items for the people of VT. She has received massive amounts of water from Walmart and masks from Home Depot. CVS and Price Chopper have also helped in providing.

Senior Susan Albert attempted to get students involved in helping hurricane victims on Labor Day weekend but unfortunately no one volunteered to help.

She plans on continuing to help hurricane victims and continues to try to get students involved. If anyone  is interested they should email Albert at salbert1@kscmailcruiser.com.

“It’s a way for students to get engaged in the community. One person can make a big difference,” Mathews said.

Some students who planned on attending Keene State College in the fall had to take a semester off due to their towns being flooded and having no way to get here. Students at Keene State now could end up helping students who had to take time off because of this natural disaster.

VT Response is a volunteer website that provides where, when, and how to  volunteer and help with the disaster. It also informs volunteers how to act around people who have gone through this disaster because some of these families have lost everything and are experiencing emotional distress.

Many students were walking around during the time period the hurricane hit; they were playing in the rain and having a good time. If Keene got hit significantly with the hurricane like Vermont, those students probably would not have survived.

To be better prepared for the next hurricane that may show its face here again, KSC Campus Safety recommended the following guidelines: before the hurricane hits move all furniture away from the windows and pick up all loose items (such as rugs, electric equipment, shoes, clothes, etc) and put them in the closet or in dresser drawers; make sure the windows are locked and curtains are closed; and grab snacks and lots of water beforehand. Citizens and students who live off campus should do all of the above plus fill up their tub with water just in case the power goes out and you cannot flush the toilet.

During the hurricane people should stay inside. After  the hurricane people should not drive through flooded roads nor should they touch a downed power line. Remember to listen for announcements regarding drinking water; at times it may be unsafe to drink tap water and if so boil it first. Throw away food that has been touched by flood water because it may carry bacteria harmful to those who consume it.

The American Red Cross in New Hampshire, with the help of the Recreational Center, will also provide areas of refuge for people whose homes easily flood. They will provide cots, food and water, health services, information on the disaster as well as a listening ear to those who need it.

They will also, with the help of donations, provide financial assistance for those who need it after the disaster. With other parts of New Hampshire hit by the hurricane, the American Red Cross in New Hampshire are unavailable to help Vermont but other states that have overcome the disaster are sending  Red Cross units to Vermont to help with the cleanup effort.

“Our mission is to provide immediate disaster assistance to the public,” said Becky Field, public affairs supervisor of the American Red Cross in New Hampshire.

Vermont continues to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, with the floods and the lack of supplies, but help can be provided by willing volunteers and donations from people who only had to deal with a little rain.


Kaitlyn Coogan can be contacted at kcoogan@ksc.mailcruiser.com.



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