UAlbany volunteers return from Puerto Rico

May 24, 2018 11:57 PM

30 volunteers from in UAlbany's College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity returned from their trip to Puerto Rico on Thursday night.

A few of them spoke with NewsChannel 13 and shared their experiences. 

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They said it was very physically demanding work that required long hours of effort. They undertook several projects, including planting pineapple trees, clearing debris from the road and beaches and moving heavy stones to rebuild a bridge from one community to another. But they said it really opened their eyes to the amount of work that still needs to be done eight months after Hurricane Maria struck. 

UAlbany students joined forces with SUNY Maritime and Environmental Science and Forestry students in their projects. Some students said though there's still a lot that needs to be done, seeing the change just one project can make in the community was uplifting. 

"You could really see the community is very important to the people of Puerto Rico,” UAlbany Junior Michael Apollo said. “So making a community center ready for use, they said that a lot of people in that area use it to celebrate birthdays and all kinds of functions, so to make the transition back into normal life after the hurricane, I'm glad I could be a part of that."

"I think that ability for students to come together to work together from different SUNY system institutions is really important,” Director of Student Services at the College of Public Affairs at UAlbany Zakhar Berkovich said. “It was also I think interesting for students themselves that they had to spend the night on the ship and that was probably a really interesting experience for them."

This is just the first round of students to go down to Puerto Rico with the SUNY system. Officials said about another 500 students will make their way down to the island for a few weeks this summer to continue recovery and rebuilding efforts. 


Emily Burkhard

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