Ohio Christian University Disaster Management Program Called to Serve in New York
This past week, a call came in to Ohio Christian University. The call was simple but to the point. The area around Binghamton, New York, had experienced massive flooding and the residents needed help.
Ohio Christian University is one of fewer than 150 colleges and universities in the United States, which is training students to respond to emergencies and disasters. This program at OCU began in January 2009, and has grown over 700% in that time. Thad Hicks, Director of the Disaster Program at OCU stated, “There is a real desire and, as you can see with the situation in NY, a need for individuals who can manage these situations.” Hicks added, “These emergency situations can go off the rails fast without trained personnel guiding them.”
Once OCU received the request from officials on the ground, the gears began to turn. Part of the promise of the Disaster Management program is that they will just show up at a disaster scene. OCU Disaster Management student Kyle Landenberger stated, “We don’t want to just go get in the way. We want to go with a purpose otherwise we just become a hindrance to the process.”
OCU is sending a team of 15 to the area. The Disaster Management team will be serving with Samaritans Purse while in New York. Samaritan's Purse specializes in meeting the most critical needs of the flooding victims. They are currently working in conjunction with area groups including Churches from the Churches of Christ in Christian Union denomination, which Ohio Christian University is associated with. The OCU team will be spending several days working with the needs of these churches and the neighborhoods they are located in.
Wyatt Buchanan, a pastor in the Binghamton area and former graduate of Ohio Christian University, is acting as the point man on the ground in NY. According to Buchanan, the real need at this point is tearing out homes and buildings. He went on to say that there were over 1,000 homes in his general area destroyed beyond repair. The greater Binghamton area has an estimated 7,000 buildings damaged. Buchanan added, “The people don’t know what to do.”
While a seemingly impossible task, OCU students are uniquely trained and enabled to respond. The students in this program, by design are trained to address a person’s total needs. They can clean out a house, but also sit down and help a person process their loss. Emergencies and disasters do not come at opportune times, and it’s made clear to the students at OCU that they need to be available wherever and whenever a need arises.