Alan Gifford

When Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast region and into the history books as one of the deadliest and costliest natural disasters ever to hit the United States, RIT/NTID Alumnus Alan Gifford, ’77, was quickly propelled into the eye of recovery efforts.

“It was Labor Day weekend,” recalls Gifford, the first deaf graduate of RIT’s bachelor’s degree program in Civil Engineering. “I had just completed work as the resident engineer in Weymouth, Mass., for a $46 million pump station and tunnel system when I got an unexpected phone call.”

Gifford’s employer, The Shaw Group, Inc., dispatched Gifford from his home near Boston to the company’s headquarters in Baton Rouge, La.

Since early September, he has been providing construction management support services for work projects to remove debris and restore New Orleans’ natural gas, water and sewage systems.

From the company’s command center, Gifford receives information from project managers in the field. He compiles the data, including costs and methodology of repairs, into reports that he submits to Federal Emergency Management Agency officials.

“Our first task was to repair water mains,” Gifford says. “In Jefferson Parish we repaired 481 broken water mains in 17 days.”

And he has received kudos for his work. “In fact,” says Shaw’s Resource Manager Barton Rogers, “the organization and documentation by Gifford has been used as a model for other Shaw hurricane projects.”

While the extreme devastation has made it a challenging environment in which to work, Gifford, who will continue working in New Orleans for several months, says he’s happy to help.

“The people have been kind,” says Gifford. “They all say, ‘Thanks for coming down here to help.’”

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2005 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

More Success Stories

Portrait of Shavone Moncrieffe
Be yourself and live life to the fullest,” is a motto Shavone Moncrieffe strives to follow every day.
Shareef Ali in glasses and a blue shirt
A job with VTCSecure, an international provider of telecommunications access, awaits Shareef after graduation.
Viet Q. Le
Viet Q. Le is a faculty member in NTID’s Science and Mathematics Department.
Joseph Hill
Joseph Hill is a faculty member in NTID’s American Sign Language and Interpreting Education Department.
Laural Hartman
Laural Hartman is a lecturer in NTID’s Visual Communications Studies Department, teaching core courses such as Drawing and Principles of Design and Color.
Jason Nordhaus
Nordhaus is a core faculty member in RIT’s Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation in the School of Mathematical Sciences, and a professor in the astrophysics Ph.D. program in RIT’s School of Physics and Astronomy.
Alesia Allen
Visiting Assistant Professor in NTID’s Department of Liberal Studies, Allen teaches introductory courses in psychology and abnormal psychology.
Jonathan Roman
At RIT, Roman found his purpose — to bridge the gap and connect the hearing and the deaf worlds.
Susana Flores
Flores, the only deaf person in her family and the first to go to college, is planning to be the curator of an art gallery one day.
Kelly Jo Hilleshiem
The NBA Indiana Pacers’ dance team wanted her, but Hilleshiem chose RIT/NTID instead.
Christopher Caulfield
Christopher chose RIT to pursue the web and mobile computing program, and to meet successful deaf role models that he never had encountered back home.
Alesia Allen
Visiting Assistant Professor in NTID’s Department of Liberal Studies, Allen teaches introductory courses in psychology and abnormal psychology.
Jason Nordhaus
Jason Nordhaus joined the faculty in NTID’s Science and Mathematics Department as an assistant professor and theoretical astrophysicist.
Portrait of Talila Lewis
A desire to work with young people and involve them in social justice advocacy brought Lewis to RIT/NTID.
Mary Rose Weber
Weber’s favorite quote is from Albert Einstein: “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Simmons, 22, from Pickering, Ohio, is a fourth-year Packaging Science major who plans to graduate in May.
RIT’s variety of support services was important to this Mechanical Engineering Technology major.
This NTID Presidential Scholarship recipient works hard, but still finds time to play.