Content | Navigation |



NDSU students help run Flood Central Call Center

Emergency management students responded to the call for help on Monday from Carol Cwiak, faculty and internship coordinator for the emergency management program at NDSU’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Emergency Management. The students got a crash course in using the skills they have learned in the classroom by helping streamline the Flood Central Call Center and volunteer registration sites.

Cwiak said it is a great opportunity for the students to experience the dynamics of a real event and learn how to work with many agencies to fill different flood control directives. She held back tears while talking about the students.

“They’ve stepped up. They’ve become leaders. They are basically leading these volunteer registration sites. They are leading at the call center,” she said. “I could not be prouder. They delivered.”

Phone lines stretched across the floor at Flood Central Call Center, and tables and phones filled the room. Coffee and thermoses were ready for volunteers answering the phone lines to take information on sandbag requests, determine where volunteers are most needed and provide any information needed on flood resources.

Ryan McEwan, a graduate student in emergency management, has been at the call center almost nonstop since Monday morning. He is volunteering 16 to 18 hours a day as the overnight manager.

“This is like an extension of the classroom. We get to fulfill roles where the greatest need is,” he said. “It’s tiring, but because the need is so great, that alone energizes me.”

McEwan expects to continue working phones and inputting requests for sandbags into next week. He said the phones slow down overnight, but at 7 a.m., they start to ring non-stop until 10 p.m. All of the emergency management students are helping in some capacity either at the phone center, at volunteer sites or on the front lines at the dikes.

Large sheets of paper attached to the walls around the room provided numbers for various churches, daycare, showers, hotels, busses, storage and where to send volunteers when they call. Each volunteer also had a cheat sheet of numbers for emergency contacts, food donation sites for restaurants and evacuation information.

The room buzzed with chatter from volunteers on the 20 phones that constantly rang. Thousands of calls go through the center each day.

Natasha Conway, director of hotline operations at FirstLink, was managing Flood Central on her own from Friday to Sunday. When the emergency management students and faculty joined the team on Monday, she said a huge weight was lifted off her shoulders.

“Words cannot describe how much they have helped,” she said. “Without their help, we would not be able to run 24 hours a day.”

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

Follow NDSU
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS
  • Google Maps

Vice President for University Relations
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-1068 - Fax: (701) 231-1989
Campus address: Old Main 204
Mailing address: Dept 6000 PO Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Page manager: NDSU University Relations

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 18, 2022 12:12:08 PM
Privacy Statement