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UAlbany Community Finds Ways to Help After Hurricanes, Earthquake

Ruined homes and flooded roads are seen from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations, Black Hawk helicopter during a flyover of Puerto Rico Sept. 23, after Hurricane Maria. (Customs and Border Protection photo by Kris Grogan)
Damage from Hurricane Maria is shown the morning after the storm passed through Puerto Rico. (Photo courtesy of Roosevelt Skerrit)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 29, 2017) — More than a week after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, most of the island and its 3.4 million people are still without electricity. Roads remain blocked, food and gas are in short supply and phone service is spotty at best.

A series of natural disasters struck in the past month. Texas is still recovering from the floods brought by Hurricane Harvey. Mexico City was rocked by a major earthquake and Hurricane Irma raked the Virgin Islands, Barbuda and other Caribbean islands before slamming into south Florida.

The UAlbany community is asking: What can I do to help?

Gov. Cuomo launched the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico, which joins civic, business and industry partners to assist in recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Donations of supplies and funds are being sought, and volunteer help is needed.

The Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund is collecting donations for hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria as well as the Mexico earthquake. SUNY Strong raised nearly $14,000 to buy and deliver needed supplies to Texas aboard the SUNY Maritime ship, Empire State VI, after Hurricane Harvey and continues to collect funds to aid those affected by Irma, Maria and the earthquake.

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CEHC students with faculty and staff support spent time in Texas helping communities ravaged by the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. (Photo courtesy of CEHC)

UAlbany’s College of Emergency Planning, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) sent a team to Texas to clear debris and rebuild after the historic flooding caused by Harvey. CEHC faculty experts have been sharing insight and advice with the media.

“CEHC faculty have also been weaving storm response and recovery into class curriculum, ensuring CEHC students are learning from the lessons of these historic events,” said Robert Griffin, dean of CEHC.

Faculty experts from the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences were in demand explaining hurricane prediction and impact.

The UAlbany Students for Sustainability and Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latino Studies (LACS) graduate students are both doing collection drives, seeking donations of water, flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, diapers, personal hygiene products and more.

LACS has a collection box in Social Sciences 249. The sustainability group will be staffing a collection table next week in front of the Campus Center.

More student organizations are expected to join the effort as the Center for Leadership & Service begins its “Change for a Cause” competition for hurricane relief.

President Havidán Rodríguez addressed the campus in a letter Thursday, noting that many students, staff and faculty have family and friends directly affected by the disasters.

“Many in our community, myself included, have loved ones who have been impacted by these catastrophic events,” he wrote. “I have been touched by the number of individuals who have reached out to me directly to ask how my family members are doing in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. I have also been approached by many students, faculty, and staff who are eager to contribute to the relief efforts.”

To find out more about the campus's response, visit the disaster relief page, which will continue to be updated as more groups join in. UAlbany community members in need of direct support should contact Student Care Services at (518) 442-5501.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.