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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU establishes disaster response team with university specialists

Areas devastated by the tsunami in Asia will require massive rebuilding efforts, and experts in many areas will be needed to help get cities, towns and villages back to a semblance of normalcy.

Responding to a call from New Mexico State University President Michael V. Martin, faculty and staff in a range of fields have volunteered their talents and skills to help in that rebuilding effort.

NMSU faculty members have expertise in water issues ranging from desalination to waste water treatment to water-borne diseases. Some have worked in areas around the world on such issues. Faculty and staff also have expertise in farm and ranchland restoration, civil engineering, public health, public utilities, business development and reestablishment, communications and community organization.

"I'd like to offer NMSU assistance as the post-tsunami reconstruction begins." Martin said.

Vice Provost for Research Don Birx assembled a cadre of more than three dozen volunteers from different disciplines. Everett Egginton, vice provost for international programs, coordinated contact between the university and the national and international agencies that will be involved in the reconstruction projects.

"We've gotten some positive responses," Egginton said, with one agency calling it one of the more comprehensive efforts developed by proposed response teams. Egginton expects the team will be called into action after immediate relief and recovery activities in the region end.

David Sammons, senior adviser for university relations and agricultural research, training and outreach with the U.S. Agency for International Development, is working with the university on its proposal and sent it through the appropriate channels.

But the volunteer project has grown beyond the tsunami disaster.

"President Martin sees this as a permanent task force," he said.
Martin believes the university team can be ready to respond quickly to other disasters and emergencies around the world. He also is willing to help put a disaster team on the ground, using university funds, for example, for transportation, Egginton said.

To provide more immediate assistance to the relief efforts, the university set up a mechanism through payroll deductions whereby faculty and staff could contribute monetarily to the immediate tsunami relief effort. A check for more than $20,000 will be given to the Red Cross for tsunami relief from the faculty and staff.