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Hurricane Katrina: Cape Breton University Looking

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September 9, 2005

Source: University College of Cape Breton:

Hurricane Katrina: Cape Breton University Looking

Cape Breton University Looking At Longer Term Options to Support Hurricane Rebuilding Efforts

(Sydney, NS) – While Cape Breton University will welcome and assist any displaced students who may wish to study in Cape Breton, the institution’s primary focus will centre on offering academic capabilities and partnerships as the US Gulf States look ahead to rebuilding.

“It is important that we offer appropriate and meaningful assistance from Cape Breton University. Our academic and research expertise in areas that can directly impact and support the needs of people in the affected areas is one focus,” said President John Harker. “Providing avenues of specialized knowledge ranging from solar water disinfection to specialized crime prevention courses for hard pressed law enforcement officers can help benefit those communities in the short and long term.”

At CBU, there is a growing cluster of knowledge around marine and water ecological systems. University faculty in the School of Education, Health and Wellness, along with others in the public health field, have conducted research on using solar energy to treat microbiologically contaminated water.

“Our faculty have conducted invaluable research on water-borne pathogens and solutions and we have shared this information with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors and sister academic institutions in the Gulf States,” said Harker.

Historically, water has been an important cause and focus for prevention of some of the most dangerous human diseases. The application of basic hygiene principles to water is very well understood, yet for a great number of the world’s population, water brings disease, and for far too many people, especially children, death. The majority of water related disease and death is due to diarrhea caused by a variety of microbial pathogens, including bacteria, parasites and viruses. Currently, preventing water borne diseases and providing drinkable water are both posing significant challenges in the affected states.

One area CBU researchers have looked at is a simple, inexpensive solar water treatment system. Solar water pasteurization uses the heat of the sun to raise the temperature of water to a point where microbial pathogens are destroyed. This method, which works best in warmer climates, is incredibly inexpensive and very easy to use. It could prove invaluable to relief workers and health officials in the troubled States.

Additional concerns in New Orleans surround the potential effects on marine ecosystems from the contaminated water currently being pumped out of the affected areas. University researchers in CBU’s School of Science and Technology are currently conducting research on ocean currents and organism survival in contaminated waters that may provide valuable information to officials in the affected areas.

Another realm of assistance that could lead to long-term benefits is to provide law enforcement officers with the tools to study crime prevention through social development. Cape Breton University offers a certificate in this area which has the potential to assist in the recovery process. The online delivery program has been developed at CBU with significant input from law enforcement professionals, including the Past President of the Canadian Chiefs of Police Association and the Deputy Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department who is currently the Commanding Officer, Operations-Valley Bureau.

Cape Breton University’s Crime Prevention through Social Development (CPSD) Certificate program offers professionals the opportunity to interact with an innovative and effective method of dealing with crime before it happens. This ‘proactive’ Certificate program teaches professionals how to recognize individuals at risk of committing crimes long before they ever offend. As well, professionals are exposed to the latest methodologies for creating healthy communities, thereby reducing an ‘at risk’ individual’s likelihood to offend.

Given the impact Katrina will continue to have on the economic, social, and personal lives of the Gulf’s residents and rebuilders, such a program could prove invaluable in helping hard pressed professionals deal with the all too human side of crime that this devastation may precipitate. In providing professionals the opportunity to deal with at risk individuals in this positive, healthy manner, they can work towards lessening Katrina’s ongoing impact by reducing the inclination towards engaging in crime.

“We realize assistance and resources will be required for many months to come. When the rebuilding phase begins, we will be continue to look at ways to align our expertise and resources and those of Cape Breton’s innovative business sector,” notes Harker, who is looking forward to a round table discussion with the Cape Breton Partnership, to this end.

Co-ordination of the university’s multi-faceted response will be handled by the CBU President’s Office through Special Projects Manager, Mike Kelloway (902) 563-1801, working in collaboration with the International Centre for Emergency Management Studies (Acting Director, Mr. Ed Grimm and Mr. David Griffiths, Research Fellow.)

Presently there are no Cape Breton University students from the affected areas and a check has revealed that none of its oil and gas trainees assigned to Gulf operations have been hurt or displaced. The University is considering (planning to extend) extending an invitation to host a faculty researcher or graduate student. The University, aware of the importance of oil and gas to the economy of the Gulf States, has already contacted key academic institutions in the field.

If students from the US Gulf States would like to study at CBU, University officials will work directly and supportively with them in terms of course selection and accommodations.


For more information:
Irene Khattar/(902) 563-1896/cell: (902) 578-7904
Communications and Public Relations Manager,
Cape Breton University



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