Deadline nears for flood relief donation pledge
Company to match as much as $250K
SCHOHARIE COUNTY A quarter-million dollars in donations for flood victims will turn into $500,000 if Schoharie Area Long Term can raise the last $15,000 by the end of the month.
The regional recovery coalition has drawn $235,000 in support since Cobleskill-based Fenimore Asset Management promised to match donations dollar-for-dollar up to $250,000.
Some victims are still living in trailers provided by the federal government, while others remain in the upper levels of their own homes while the lower floors undergo repairs.
The Rev. Sherri Meyer-Veen, a member of the SALT board of directors, said some in need are just being discovered, 18 months after tropical storms Irene and Lee.
“We’re still getting people that are walking in the door for the first time, looking for assistance,” she said.
A flurry of volunteer efforts drew hundreds to the valley to help muck out basements, toss flood-soaked belongings on the curb and gut some homes. But recovery that entails rebuilding and getting people back to some form of normalcy is the challenge at this point, Meyer-Veen said.
“People don’t understand that relief is not recovery. Recovery is the long-term process that helps people put their lives back together,” Meyer-Veen said. “The need is just as great as it ever was.”
SALT Director Sarah Goodrich said the organization is working to establish goals — such as raising as much as possible by March 1 for the Fenimore Asset Management matching donations deadline — in an effort to sprinkle successes into the lengthy rebuilding process. The group set an initial goal of gathering as much as $3 million in donations, but it is unclear if that will be sufficient. The matching donations, however, will mark an important step in the process.
“It’s a great milestone, but it’s the first stepping stone,” Goodrich said.
The matching program, announced last August, would give a major boost to the goal of addressing destruction suffered by roughly 2,000 homeowners inundated by flooding in 2011.
Since it began organizing flood relief, SALT brought in about 25,000 volunteers to perform 128,877 hours of labor — which would have cost an estimated $4 million if performed by professionals. So far, more than 400 homes have been gutted, 250 received building materials and another 200 benefited from skilled labor.
Last month, SALT reported about 34 percent of flood victims in the valley have returned home and another 26 percent are halfway there. More than a quarter of victims — 28 percent — are less than halfway finished rebuilding, and 12 percent of severely damaged homes have been torn down.
People can learn more about SALT and ways to help at www.saltrecovery.org.