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Catholic Charities to help with post-flood rebuilding in Fort Plain

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
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Building contractor Howard Mosher Jr. looks over flood damage Wednesday in a home he purchased recently in Fort Plain.
Building contractor Howard Mosher Jr. looks over flood damage Wednesday in a home he purchased recently in Fort Plain.

— Contractor Howard Mosher Jr. is nearly finished fixing flood damage at his uncle’s Abbott Street home after five weeks of work, and he’s planning to move his crew two doors down to begin repairing another house he purchased recently.

The owners of the house in between left for California not long after flooding inundated their home, he said.

Mosher isn’t expecting to make much money renting out the house once it’s repaired, but he wants to help prevent an exodus of residents from his hometown of 52 years.

He won’t be alone in his goal of keeping people in the village: Fort Plain will be getting more help through a grant received by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.

Catholic Charities of the Albany Diocese is establishing a Disaster Response and Recovery Office to focus on long-term recovery operations dedicated to people victimized by flooding this summer in Montgomery and Herkimer counties.

The diocese won a $447,840 grant from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the money will pay three people to help victims wade through various aid programs to get rebuilding assistance, diocesan spokesman Paul McAvoy said.

Flash flooding on June 28 swelled the Otsquago Creek so heavily that dozens of homes were inundated and one resident was killed.

Rebuilding has been ongoing since, and the Fulton Montgomery Long Term Recovery Committee is currently focusing efforts on 25 families in the village, according to committee chairman Michael Raphael of the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York.

The recovery committee is made up of all volunteers, so the addition of a full-time staff person is “very, very helpful,” he said.

The Disaster Response and Recovery Office staff members — three in total — will be working out of the Catholic Charities office at 1 Kimball St. in Amsterdam and in Ilion, Herkimer County.

They’ve just completed a two-year recovery effort focusing on victims of tropical storms Irene and Lee in Schoharie, Schenectady, Delaware and Greene counties, according to the diocese.

“This grant, made possible by generous contributions from Catholic parishes throughout the country, will help our neighbors who are still recovering from the devastating floods,” Albany Diocese Bishop Howard Hubbard said in a news release.

The new office will concentrate on guiding victims to appropriate assistance programs to repair foundations and walls, replace furniture and furnaces and address mold, among other issues.

It’s help Fort Plain Mayor Guy Barton on Wednesday called a godsend.

“Catholic Charities will be a big asset for us,” he said Barton, adding that numerous homeowners are in need of help.

There are flood victims looking to sell their properties, he said, but not all of them.

“Some of the people are going to hang on,” Barton said.

Taking a break from installing an interior door at his uncle’s place, Mosher scanned Reid Street, visible from across the Otsquago Creek, and said he hopes his work rebuilding will prevent the hard-hit neighborhood from disintegrating.

“I just want to get the home back. I don’t want to see all these houses torn down,” he said.

People in need of disaster repairs can learn more about help that’s available by calling 842-4202, ext. 3110.

 
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