UVM conquers Irene’s devastation

Students buying dinner at Brennan’s or getting coffee at the Waterman Café may have noticed the donation jars labeled “Hurricane Irene Relief Effort” at checkout.


Since Irene struck on Aug. 27, there have been and will be many fundraisers and events held by the UVM community to raise money in support of recovery efforts, said Gary Derr, vice president of executive communications.


UVM is planning on sending the fundraised money to three locations: the American Red Cross, Vermont Food Bank and Vermont Disaster relief Fund, Derr said.


“[Vermont Food Bank needs] financial resources because they have the capacity to take a dollar and turn it into a much larger return,” he said.


The University has been encouraging students to volunteer for United Way of Chittenden County, a nonprofit organization that connects volunteers to people impacted by the disaster, Derr said.


“[Since] that first weekend when there was a critical need for emergency cleanup, there has been a lot of aid given and more is happening,” he said.


In an effort to assess the damage Irene has had on UVM faculty and students, the University made a survey to find out how to better aid students affected, Derr said.


“Right now we have 55 people that have responded to the survey that were impacted,” he said. “We’re kind of dealing with it on a case by case basis.”


UVM Police Services volunteered to provide relief and support for towns that were hit hard, Derr said.


“In one of the towns there was a cemetery that was badly damaged by the flood and caskets washed up because of soil erosion,” he said.


Two police officers went down and guarded that cemetery until they could do a recovery of those caskets and appropriately manage them, Derr said.


“On Aug. 27, our town celebrated its 250th founding anniversary and on Sunday, when the flooding hit, it destroyed the historical society building with all its records of the town [and] washed away,” he said.


Some clubs on campus have organized relief efforts to do their part in helping Vermonters.


On Sept. 10, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club (BJJ) went to Stockbridge to help clear debris, recovery lost property, and stock the local food shelf, according to a press release.


“We saw whole bridges washed away, houses were half collapsed, cars were relocated into the stream by Irene. It was terrible to see,” head coach Vince Guy said.


“I am grateful for the opportunity to help my neighbors and to show the students and community what the power of service could do,” he said.


Interim President John Bramley was heartened by the way the UVM community has been helping with the cleanup and recovery efforts to aid fellow Vermonters, according to an announcement by University Communications.


“This has been an unprecedented disaster for Vermont and it requires sustained efforts on all our parts both in the short term, but in the weeks and months ahead,” Bramley said.