Norwich students pitch in with flood relief

by Caitie Banfield

The town of Northfield, Vermont, is unique in the sense that a significant part of the community is made up of college students. The community was recently brought together by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irene.

Shane Gorman, a sophomore at Norwich University, rented a first floor apartment on Water Street; one of the worst hit spots in Northfield. On the night of August 28th, in the midst of trying to save whatever was possible, Shane and his three roommates were told to break into the apartment upstairs to wait for a boat that could rescue them and take them to safe ground.

“We evacuated just in time so that our cars wouldn’t get stuck,” Gorman said. “We went back around five o’clock to try and save our clothes and other valuables, and we were rescued by a boat team three hours later.”

This wasn’t at all how Gorman expected to spend the night before he started his sophomore year of classes. His apartment filled with three feet of water. He and his roommates lost everything including beds, couches, televisions, clothing, and other personal belongings.

But, despite personal loss, members of the university have logged several hours’ worth of work since the nightmarish, unexpected beginning to the school year, according to reports Nicole DiDominico of The Guidon. The help Norwich is providing won’t stop anytime soon. It will continue for several months and potentially years to come.

Norwich University’s involvement in clean up from the flood has been a significant help to Central Vermont. “Norwich has helped out a lot, they have given us money to help us for all of the items we’ve lost,” Gorman said, “and helped us find alternative housing.”

Chiara Traversa volunteered with twenty-five other students that Norwich had organized to help flood victims. Traversa found herself in a trailer park in Berlin off of Route 12. Although she knew it was important to help people who were harmed by the flood, Traversa still struggeled emotionally with the job she had to do. She had never seen anything like that before. Traversa said it was an emotional experience to see the disaster the flooding had caused.

“I had time and I knew people could use my help,” Traversa said. “We were given big black garbage bags and told that everything in the trailer was trash,” Traversa explained. The trailer belonged to an elderly gentleman. “I couldn’t help but to cry when I was told that this man’s life was all trash.”

Norwich University is sending over one hundred students daily to assist in pick up from the flooding. The community is more than willing to help in any way possible to get the town back to where it was before disaster struck. The priority of the university’s volunteer groups is the residents of Northfield, mainly on Water Street, Union Street, Summer Street, Western Ave, and Tucker’s Trailer Park, according to The Norwich Guidon.

DiDominico mentioned how great it is to know that if there is a need again that the help is there.

Suzanne Whitaker, a senior at Norwich University, has taken very little time to herself this semester. “I decided to volunteer to help people who had lost everything.” The fact that Whitaker was a flood victim herself, she has shown a great amount of selflessness by being as helpful as she has been. She is currently is living in a friend’s house where she and her boyfriend have turned the living room into their bedroom.

Athletic teams have really gotten involved with volunteering. The women’s soccer team helped the week of the flood. The women made a line where they passed buckets of mud and dirty water out of basements. The women’s lacrosse team also volunteered.

Shane Gorman, who plays for the men’s hockey team, volunteered with his teammates for a day, they moved appliances that had been destroyed out of houses onto the curb, and they cleaned inches of mud out of basements that had settled under all of the water.

“I don’t know who else would be doing all this work, if the school/students weren’t into helping, because so many hours have been put in and that’s a lot of work that has been done so far.” Whitaker said.

DiDominico mentioned in The Norwich Guidon that, the Cadets have committed to helping the town out, many ‘Rook Platoons’ have dedicated hours worth of work cleaning up and other Norwich students have just shown up to help out in any way they can. This help that the university is providing means the world to the community. The students are not only providing their labor and time, but they are doing it with a smile.

True North Reports welcomes Caitie Banfield, who will be interning with us for the next three months.