GSD Helps Local Towns Hit by Storm

About 20 students and faculty members at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) have volunteered to help rebuild the eight Massachusetts communities declared disaster areas in the wake of this month's blizzard.

The state's Department of Community Affairs asked GSD's Community Assistance Program to organize a volunteer strike team "because we have the experience to make critical planning decisions once the emergency is over," Kenneth W. Paolini, the program's director, said yesterday.

State agencies and communities will determine the full extent of the storm's damage, and then ask the strike team for help in planning specific rebuilding projects. "We don't know what exactly, if anything, we'll be asked to do, but we're ready if they need us," Paolini said.

Although the eight-year-old Community Assistance Program has previously advised groups that could not afford professional service, this will be the first time it will participate in an emergency situation, Paolini said.

"It's part of our responsibility, given the talent we have here, to try to help out when others are in less fortunate circumstances," Douglas S. Way, associate professor of Landscape Architecture and a member of the strike team, said yesterday.

"The student also benefits from helping the communities by gaining concrete field experience," Robin B. Judson, a design school student and a program volunteer, said yesterday.