In the week following Tropical Storm Irene, neighbors, volunteers and local organizations have come together to help clean up, rebuild and offer help to those in need.
The Red Cross, whose local chapter is based out of Plattsburgh, said Wednesday that volunteers had been dispatched to the areas affected by the storm in Essex County and that a shelter had been set up at the Jay Community Center in AuSable Forks. Anyone who would like to volunteer with the Red Cross is asked to contact the local chapter at 518-694-5103 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The town of Jay, in conjunction with the AuSable Forks Volunteer Fire Department, is asking for volunteers to help maintain the kitchen for the town's emergency shelter. Meals are being provided for the National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, local volunteer organizations and victims of the flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Irene. Anyone interested in helping run the kitchen should call the town supervisor's office at 647-2204.
The town is also looking for donations to help keep the shelter's kitchen stocked. Items needed include: chicken, ground beef, pasta, potato and macaroni salads, fresh vegetables, fruits, cereal, eggs, bacon, sausage, milk and juice. Donations of cleaning supplies like mops, latex gloves and disinfectants are also needed to help flood victims clean up their homes. Items can be dropped off at the town supervisor's office, 11 School Lane, AuSable Forks.
The Keene Community Trust, in partnership with the Adirondack Community Trust, has launched a Flood Recovery Fund to assist the residents, seasonal residents and business owners of the town of Keene (including the hamlets of Keene, Keene Valley and St. Hubert's) recover from the flood damage resulting from Irene. A special account has been established to receive contributions for distribution for those in need.
"People are hurting," Keene Community Trust secretary Phyllis Buchanan said in a prepared statement. "Many have suffered catastrophic losses, including destruction of their homes' and businesses' furniture, cars, clothing and other personal items. Local farmers lost their crops, and store owners found their inventory covered in mud. This fund will provide immediate assistance to help the people of our community get back on their feet while government agencies work on rebuilding infrastructure. Down the road, we have a firehouse to rebuild and re-equip, and a library to repair.
"The floodwaters exceeded all records. Raging brooks and rivers tore through homes and business that don't have flood insurance. Damaged walls and insulation have to be removed quickly and restored before mold sets in. Winter will soon be upon us - we have to act now. We are establishing this fund so we as a community can help our friends and neighbors rebuild and restore our hamlets."
A special allocations committee is being established along with simple application forms so those seeking assistance can do so easily and so the funds are distributed fairly and quickly. All contributions are tax-deductible.
The Adirondack Community Trust will provide administrative and accounting support. Both the Keene and Adirondack community trusts' officials hope that this effort will provide a model for other communities to consider as a means of addressing their own challenges.
"We understand that there are both emotional and financial needs, and at the same time sweat equity, too, can be a valuable contribution," Buchanan said. "We are working closely with our local civic, spiritual, educational and public leaders to take a proactive approach to providing assistance, avoiding duplication and prioritizing our response. Keene is a very special place. It is a community where every person is valued."
A website is also being established. In the meantime, contributions can be made out to "ACT - Keene Flood Recovery Fund" and mailed to Adirondack Community Trust, P.O. Box 288, Lake Placid, NY 12946.
For more information, contact Melissa Eisinger at 518-523-9904 or email@example.com.
The Enterprise asks anyone who has more information about ways the public can help volunteer time, funds or needed items to contact News Editor Brittany Proulx at firstname.lastname@example.org.