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Hurricane Relief

William Kimler (left) and Lizzie Buchanan in front of UAlbany's entry plaza. (Photo by Mike Nolan)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 27, 2017) – UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) is committed to offering its students with experiential learning and hands-on training opportunities outside of the classroom.

Lizzie Buchanan and William Kimler are proof the college is living up to that commitment.

Team Rubicon:

Buchanan and Kimler were recently deployed to Texas as volunteers with Team Rubicon.

Through the opportunity, the CEHC undergrads offered support to those who were in the direct path of Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm that brought unprecedented amounts of rainfall to the Lone Star State in late August.

Team Rubicon is a non-profit organization that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders, medical responders following a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey. The organization rapidly deploys emergency response teams to provide relief to those in need, both in the United States and internationally.

Buchanan and Kimler are not veterans, but Team Rubicon welcomed their help with open arms.

“In mid-September, all CEHC majors received an email from the college asking if we were interested in gaining training hours by volunteering with Team Rubicon,” said Buchanan, a junior from Syracuse, N.Y. “So far, I had only participated in disaster simulations, so I was really excited about this opportunity and quickly responded. A week later, I was on a plane heading to Texas.”

Team Rubicon group photo

Members of Team Rubicon's emergency response team in Texas. (Photo provided by William Kimler)

While in Texas, Buchanan and Kimler were stationed in the City of Beaumont, about one hour outside of Houston. The city is in cleanup mode after taking on the brunt of Hurricane Harvey. Some residents are still unable to return to their homes due to excess flood damage.

The students worked with Team Rubicon to help residents prevent further damage to their homes and prepare for restoration.

Buchanan focused on logistics and damage assessments while Kimler assisted with “muck outs,” which involve removing dry wall, insulation, flooring and other construction materials that have been impacted by floodwaters and are at-risk for molding.

The “muck out” process can rack up a significant price tag depending on the home’s damage – Team Rubicon offers their help free or charge.

Buchannan and Kimler each spent one week in Beaumont, working 10-12 hour days.

“I went from not knowing that Team Rubicon existed to gutting homes and helping those in need just a few days later,” said Kimler, a freshman from Endwell, N.Y. “I’ve spent the last two years as a volunteer firefighter, so I felt prepared. But, once you get down there and see people who are dealing with 10 feet of water in their house, it becomes real. I am very thankful for this experience.”

Both students plan to volunteer with Team Rubicon again during winter break and next summer.

CEHC’s Experiential Learning Commitment:

Coursework for students in the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity is supplemented by experiential learning.

Several of the University Centers including Center for Public Health Preparedness, the National Center for Security and Preparedness, and the Center for Information Forensics and Assurance, continuously provide students with research and training opportunities.

CEHC also partners on various disaster response simulations and provides students with volunteer opportunities through organizations like Team Rubicon.

100 hours of training are required for students to complete the college’s undergraduate major.

“CEHC provides students with real-world experiences by creating connections in the local community and with national leaders in emergency response,” said Emily Barrett, CEHC’s Director of Experiential Learning and External Partnerships. “Through these connections, students are offered opportunities to help those who have been impacted by disasters. We are encouraging our students to participate in recovery efforts nation-wide.”

You learn more about the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity and its mission here.

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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.