A Derecho spurred DMU student volunteers into service

Soon after the record Derecho storm passed through Iowa on August 10, DMU students sprang into action to organize a community cleanup effort. 

Led by organizers in DMU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, about 50 students gathered on campus Saturday and Sunday morning, August 22 and 23. They deployed to residential properties identified in the new 2-1-1 community support telephone line and organized through crisiscleanup.org. The student coordinators leading the charge were Grace Austin, D.P.T. ’22, PT Club President, Cole Crawford, D.P.T. ’22, PT Club Vice President  and Spencer Derifield, D.P.T. ’22, Community Experience Coordinator. 

“As soon as we saw the incredible, widespread damage, Cole, Spencer, and I knew we had to do something to help, and especially to help those who are elderly or with disabilities,” said Physical Therapy Club president Grace Austin, D.P.T. ’22. 

Against the backdrop of the continuing pandemic, these medical and health sciences students volunteered their time to help many in dire need. And, as they moved about the community they all followed pandemic safety protocols by maintaining safe physical distances and wearing face masks. 

Once checked in, students left campus for their assigned residences spread from Windsor Heights to Des Moines’s southside armed with rakes, shovels, saws and pruners. “DMU’s DPT program embraces the core values of the physical therapy profession including compassion/caring and social responsibility,” said Tracy Porter, P.T., D.P.T., EdD, Assistant Director Clinical Education and PT Club Advisor. “These students have been motivated by the need to help their fellow citizens recover some sense of normalcy in this very challenging year.” 

This relief activity has been coordinated through the national non-profit Crisis CleanUp, which provides the technology for disasters nationwide to assist teams of volunteers in their work. www.crisiscleanup.org 

View all photos from the clean up here.

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