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Helmut Schmidt, Published October 01 2010

NDSU emergency management students apply flood-fighting to 'Extreme Makeover' project

About 60 students from North Dakota State University’s emergency management department are sharing skills honed in the metro flood fights as part of the upcoming “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” project in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

“Wait until you see my people in action. The team I have is stellar,” says Carol Cwiak, an assistant professor in emergency management.

Cwiak said the group will be in charge of check-in during the eight or nine days it will take Fargo’s Heritage Homes, “Extreme Makeover” personnel and a small army of 4,000 tradesmen and volunteers to build a home for a deserving family and clean up after.

Cwiak said the students will be able to show off their ability to make “cool, calm, rational choices.”

“It’s going to be a heck of a week,” she said.

NDSU’s Kevin Helland is ready to lend a hand.

He said the emergency management students have their team set.

“It’s going to be a great time. It’s going to be awesome to help that family,” the senior from Kathryn, N.D., said.

The team is a mix of graduate and undergraduate students, Cwiak said. It was first put together during the 2009 flood, when they helped FirstLink manage the thousands of volunteers needed to deal with that threat to the area.

The NDSU crew will check in all of the tradespeople, volunteers and VIPs and media, act as gatekeepers and make sure all wear the right clothing and shoes to work safely on the construction site.

“ABC needs that to be a tight process,” Cwiak said. “Things will come up. And we’ll have to deal with some of these things as they come up.”

Each of the NDSU volunteers will do one or two of the eight-, nine- or 11-hour shifts, Cwiak said.

People on the NDSU campus are comparing the experience to the flood experience, Cwiak said, with an overarching feeling that people just want to be involved.

“There is just a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and passion around this,” she said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583