Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Brown students were lucky to get away from school last week, as Rhode Island was hit with record rainfall and devastating floods. In one 24-hour period, some areas received an astounding seven inches of rain, resulting in floods that forced hundreds from their homes and left thousands without electricity. This week, students return to an area for which President Obama has issued a "major disaster declaration." Students cannot ignore their obligation to help neighbors in need. 

According to the Providence Journal's Web site, donations to the local chapter of the Red Cross are "urgently requested." The organization Serve Rhode Island is coordinating volunteers statewide, and there is also a great need for people to work in shelters and assist with damage assessment and cleanup efforts. Those willing to volunteer can register at Moreover, students planning to host events or parties in the coming weeks should seek to collect donations for flood victims and encourage guests to give what they can. 

While the timing of the floods may have been fortuitous for Brown students away on spring break, the natural disaster could not have come at a worse time for the state. Officials estimate that 4,000 Rhode Islanders were temporarily out of work last week because of the flooding, on top of a statewide unemployment rate over 12 percent. Governor Donald Carcieri '65 predicted that repairing the damage will cost hundreds of millions of dollars — absolutely horrible news given the state's existing fiscal challenges. The governor described the recent events as a "kick in the teeth." If there was ever a time for Brown students to go the extra mile in helping the surrounding community, this is it.  

This context should also figure in the federal government's decision to apportion disaster relief funds. The federal response has thus far been swift. President Obama's declaration paves the way for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid in the recovery, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited the state on Friday. 

Still, more can be done. Members of Rhode Island's congressional delegation are pushing for the federal government to waive the usual requirement that state and local governments match 25 percent of federal relief aid. Considering that the state unemployment rate is the third highest in the nation and has remained above the national rate for some time now, Rhode Island would be a good candidate to benefit from a little extra federal generosity. 

While federal aid is critical, it must be accompanied by an outpouring of support from the local community. Brown's location atop a hill symbolically suggests a level of distance and aloofness relative to the surrounding area. The symbolism of Brown's physical elevation comes even more clearly into focus in the aftermath of a devastating flood. Students must now live up to their responsibilities as residents of a city and a state. We encourage everyone to make a much-needed contribution to relief efforts.  

Editorials are written by The Herald's editorial page board. Send comments to editorials (at)



Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.