In Penn College Fashion, Student Puts Know-How to Use

Published 09.22.2017

Student News
School of Sciences, Humanities & Visual Communications News
Emergency Management & Homeland Security

Pennsylvania College of Technology students regularly apply their skills to help others – even before graduation.

That’s the case with Shakeem J. Thomas, an emergency management technology student from Brooklyn, New York, who’s lending a hand in the nearby Queens neighborhood of Broad Channel where residents are still recovering – five years later – from Hurricane Sandy. Working with CAC BHL Joint Venture, LLC, a company contracted under New York City’s “Build It Back” program, Thomas is helping with the rebuilding effort.

Shakeem J. Thomas“This is accomplished by reconstructing the foundations of homes to create a more resilient, durable and secure platform for the homes to withstand future storms and flooding,” he said.

Fallout from José hampered the rebuilding effort this week."The island has been facing an increase in coastal flooding more than usual," Thomas said.The recovery was affected this past week when Tropical Storm José churned up the East Coast, causing flooding along Long Island on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thomas sent photos back “home” to campus to be shared with fellow emergency management students.

“I feel it’s very important to keep students updated with all of the great works that their peers are doing in our communities,” he said.

... lifting them to allow reconstruction of the homes' storm-damaged foundations.Thomas provided photos of different houses rehabbed under the same principle ...Getting to apply what he’s learned in the classroom is rewarding, he said: “After years of doing various reports and reading numerous articles about the amount of destruction that was caused by Hurricane Sandy while I was attending Penn College, it feels remarkable to actually be able to experience firsthand the vast amount of work that goes into the recovery and mitigation aspect of emergency management. The overall response from the community has been nothing but positive!”

How do he and his fellow relief workers remain upbeat in light of the overwhelming task?

“Our motivation is driven by knowing we are working our hardest to get neighbors, friends and families back into their homes. Despite all of this hard work and effort, the one idea that keeps me optimistic is the thought that all of the work I am contributing is helping thousands of my fellow New Yorkers. The community overall has developed, and is still continuing to develop into a more equipped and prepared environment to stand up to any future threats of natural disasters.”

Thomas, who is completing his major’s capstone, also serves in the Army National Guard.