February 6, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 36°F


Alternative fall break to assist county affected by flooding

A group of Ithaca College students has signed up to spend its fall break helping restore homes lost to Hurricane Irene in Prattsville, N.Y.

Gannon said the town needs a lot of help rebuilding.

The Scoharie County town was devastated by the flood in August, losing 40 to 50 percent of its homes.

As a result of the destruction, the Huntersfield Christian Training Center in Prattsville asked students from the college to help restore the 130 homes that were lost.

This is the first time the college’s Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs is offering the opportunity for students to participate in community service over fall break, from Oct. 20 to 23.

Don Austin, assistant director of Community Service and Leadership Development at the college, said they want to bring six students on the trip to assist with construction.

The cost of the program will be broken up into payments of $15 a day, Austin said, which amounts to $60 at the end of the trip. He said this will cover transportation, three meals per day, work materials and housing in HCTC’s retreat center.

“Students have the opportunity to do this at an extremely, almost unheard of, low cost,” he said. “It will be a very eye-opening experience.”

Throughout the weekend, volunteers will remove mud from basements and spray-and-pressure wash them to prevent the spread of mold.

Junior Charis Tse, who was not planning to go home for fall break, said she signed up for the trip because she wanted to do something more productive with her vacation.

“I think this is a really good opportunity, considering it isn’t just a one day thing,” she said. “I’ve never went to a volunteer trip where I’ve spent a couple days, and I was really excited to know that there was something offered here like that. I hope I can help the community.”

Because of the help from local volunteers and the group from the college, people who don’t have flood insurance or family in the area could have a place to go during the winter season for shelter.

Kelly Gannon ’11, assistant coach for the college’s women’s soccer team, said she fully supports the program. Though she is not participating in the trip, she lives close to Prattsville, and said she understands the significant damage that occurred.

“If somebody has organized something to go there and help out that’s great,” she said. “If students are going to help out, that’s great to hear because they need as much help as they can get.”

Tracy Gockel, volunteer sign-up coordinator for HCTC, said she wants students to take initiative to get involved with the program.

“We expect it to be a year or more process,” she said. “We welcome all the volunteers that we can get. We encourage people to come.”