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Students respond to hurricanes Harvey and Irma

When Hurricanes Harvey and Irma ravaged parts of the southern United States and the Caribbean over the past three weeks, some members of the Brandeis community were affected as others united in relief efforts.

Several students from Houston were affected by Hurricane Harvey, which caused major flooding and killed at least 70 throughout its path. A few students could not make it back to campus before the first day of classes; Miranda Hurtado-Ramos ’19 had to drive to Dallas and then fly to Boston because her original flight from Houston was cancelled.

“You couldn’t find water or batteries anywhere before the storm came,” said Hurtado-Ramos, who prepared for the storm though her neighborhood escaped the worst of it.

A hurricane relief donation bin is located in the SCC atrium.

Hurricane relief shelters in Houston were overflowing with volunteers, but were often unorganized due to the chaos of the natural disaster, according to Hurtado-Ramos. Many volunteers sorted through clothes, diapers and other materials that were donated to shelters.

Hurricane Irma, which roared through most of the state of Florida early this week, caused large scale power outages and heavy damages.

“My parents were originally planning on evacuating,” said Miami resident and Brandeis student Aaron Finkel ’20. “After the storm shifted to the west, they decided to stick around.” Finkel’s neighborhood lost power and a few trees were downed but nearby areas were hit harder, he said.

“My family didn’t evacuate, they put some hurricane shutters outside and got some food and candles,” said Claudia Roldan ’18, who is from San Juan, Puerto Rico. There have been many hurricanes in the area, according to Roldan, though few were as powerful as Irma, where the winds reached 190 miles an hour.

Students worried about their families and friends back home as Hurricane Irma swept through the southern U.S. and Caribbean.

“It was very worrisome, of course, to be away from my family because I didn’t know if they were going to be okay,” said Roldan. “Thankfully, everyone is okay!”

Dean of Students Jamele Adams also reached out to the campus. “Whether you are concerned for family members, need to replace materials that were lost, have a new financial situation, are confronting new emotional challenges or any range of other situations, we are here to help,” he wrote in an email Wednesday morning.

Adams urged students directly and indirectly affected by the hurricanes to reach out to the Dean of Students Office as well as the Department of Community Service if they need support.

Individual students and campus groups have contributed to relief efforts. Students made 35 no-sew blankets which were shipped along with a large card to Houston, according to Marissa Lazaroff ’18, co-president of the Waltham Group (an umbrella organization of Brandeis philanthropy and community service groups). More blanket making events will be held in October and November, according to the Department of Community Service website.

Sodexo offers more ways for students to help Harvey and Irma victims. They will be donating $1 for every social media user who follows them on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and $1 for every student who completes a coming Customer Satisfaction survey.

Students will also have the option to add a designated donation item to their purchase from the Hurricane Relief display in the C-Store. Monetary and toiletry donations are being collected in the SCC atrium, at the Department of Community Service, at the Waltham Group Office and outside Hillel Lounge.

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