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Alternative Spring Break... in January


Over winter break, Hamilton College’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program sent seven students to Baton Rouge, La., as ASB’s first ever winter break trip. The students went to help local residents recover from the disastrous flash flood this past August.

The trip was led by John (Jack) McCaffery ’17 and Meg Brennan ’17, and other participants included Siobhan Lambert ’17, Ana Castro Reynoso ’17, Jose Olivares ’17, Amin Babar ’20, Nicholas (Nick) Jickling ’19, Nora Boyle ’18, Christopher Wallace ’17 and Andrea (Andi) Dickmeyer ’19.

 In just a two day period, from August 12-14th, over 4 trillion gallons of water fell over Louisiana, causing immense flooding, even in areas with no prior history of flooding. The flood was a 1,000-year weather event, meaning that it has a .001 percent chance of happening each year. 

The students drove a jitney 22 hours to Louisiana and spent 5 days volunteering in and around Baton Rouge.  The students worked at the Blackwater Conservation Area in Central Louisiana, where flooding exceeded 30 feet in some parts of the 57-acre area. 

In the conservation area, the students helped remove water hyacinth, an invasive plant species that spread rapidly throughout the conservation area during the flood.

The students also volunteered with All Hands, a disaster relief group based in Boston.  With All Hands, the students worked to rebuild homes that were damaged from the floods.  The students primarily installed dry wall and insulation, and spent time talking to and learning from the homeowners and other local residents.

If you are interested in joining one of the nine spring break service trips, please email asb@hamilton.edu.

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