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Proud of Norwich community response

By Richard Schneider
On September 13, 2011

I want to take a moment to express how proud I am of the entire Norwich community. As you know, our neighbors in Northfield were hit especially hard by Tropical Storm Irene, with approximately 100 homes damaged by substantial flooding. Many residents and some day students have been displaced, and the loss of personal property is enormous. In this time of need in town you have risen to the occasion.

On Sunday, Aug. 28, members of the Mountain Cold Weather company's rescue team received a call from Northfield police at the height of the storm requesting assistance relocating residents in town. Thirty-seven cadets quickly responded. These students worked to evacuate a total of 25 residents, and remained on call until Monday morning, when they resumed their normal class schedule.

Following the flooding, Norwich's director of civic engagement and campus climate, Nicole DiDomenico, took the lead as head of Norwich's Disaster Relief team, to ensure that we understood the needs of the community and matched those needs in an organized way with our resources.

Since the day of the storm groups of athletes, cadets and civilian students have descended on the town and worked side-by-side with the local residents to assist with the relief effort. Among other jobs they have shoveled mud out of basements, removed rubbish from homes, pulled out ruined drywall and moved appliances. They have also assisted with childcare, food and clothing drives, and clean-up efforts in surrounding towns. The list goes on and on. Just two weeks after Irene, students have donated over 3,500 documented volunteer hours.

Responding to this disaster has been a campus-wide endeavor. In addition to the work students are doing, Norwich faculty and staff members have been assisting with the recovery effort in the community. Sodexho has already donated several thousand meals, and Norwich Facilities Operations staff donated time and heavy equipment to help remove debris from flooded areas.

Our alumni and family members have gotten involved as well. As a result of their generous support a Norwich University Hurricane Relief Fund has been established to help students, faculty and staff affected by the storm.

The work is not finished. This recovery effort will be a marathon and not a sprint, and we plan to assist in town for as long as help is needed. (Anyone desiring to volunteer should contact the Center for Civic Engagement at ex. 2644 or

Norwich has received notes and calls from grateful community members. Gov. Peter Shumlin has also expressed his appreciation for Norwich University's flood relief work in town.  

But more important than any recognition is the fact that members of the Norwich community are experiencing "service to others above self." You are willingly lending help to your neighbors in need and are learning lessons first-hand about compassion and human nature that cannot be taught in a classroom. You are bonding with each other and making connections with people in the community which will last a lifetime.

You are making a positive difference in the lives of others, and I am proud of all of you.

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