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Press Release



September 13, 2004

Ark City men to assist with Florida hurricane cleanup


On what could possibly be a trip of a lifetime, two Arkansas City men, including a Cowley County Community College student, left Kansas today en route to Florida, where they’ll assist with the Hurricane Frances disaster.

photo of Heitsman and CourseyMichael Heitsman, left, and Larry Coursey.

Michael Heitsman, a Cowley sophomore majoring in pre-architecture, and Larry Coursey, a 2003 graduate of Arkansas City High School, flew to Atlanta, Ga., today for two to three days of training before traveling on to Florida, hit hard by Hurricane Frances.

The Federal Emergency Management Association selected the two men after it contacted Citizen Corps of Cowley County for assistance. Ruth Heitsman, Michael’s mother, is head of the Corps. She received an e-mail from FEMA, and her son and Coursey were chosen because of their participation and knowledge of Citizen Corps.

The two men are expected to spend two weeks working in Florida as FEMA Community Relations officers. Their main task is to build positive relationships with hurricane victims.

“I enjoy helping people,” said Coursey, who is interested in a career that will allow him to help people in need. “I love to see the expressions and faces of those in need. It makes me feel good inside to help.”

Michael Heitsman is hoping to grow as a person, and he expects being out on his own and experiencing real life situations to help make him a better person.

“After going through all of the training, I’ll learn to deal with different situations and problems for people,” he said. “It will definitely be well worth the experience.”

Heitsman, enrolled in fall classes at Cowley, will make up the course work when he returns to Arkansas City.

Citizen Corps has received grants to get established in Cowley County. It teaches about emergency preparedness and emergency response and conducts many presentations around the county.