AuSABLE FORKS — Hundreds of property owners still need help a year after Tropical Storm Irene roared through the region.
A consortium of nonprofit and governmental agencies brought together during the storm’s aftermath is still in place and expanding its outreach to those who continue to have troubles.
Representatives from many of those offices will be featured at an event called “One Year After: Resources and Recovery,” to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Jay Community Center in AuSable Forks.
It is a joint effort spearheaded by the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group, Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas and Keene Town Supervisor Bill Ferebee.
The Recovery Group began meeting in November after the Federal Emergency Management Agency finished its initial recovery work following Irene.
“After the storm, FEMA approached the United Way to see if we’d be willing to lead a disaster-recovery team made up of nonprofits involved in disaster recovery,” said John Bernardi, group chair and director of the United Way of the Adirondack Region.
“Our mission is to help people meet their unmet needs. It’s people who have no permanent housing yet or have trees down or roof damage or agricultural issues.
“It could be anything related to issues left over from the storm.”
For example, some residents had fallen trees, debris and mud cleaned up and hauled away; others needed cash to temporarily meet expenses in the days after Irene battered the region.
Clinton and Essex counties were declared disaster areas in the wake of the storm, but Franklin County was not since the damage there wasn’t as widespread.
Any property damage sustained by owners that was not covered by insurance comes out of their pockets, which is a burden.
Others are not getting FEMA help because of the agency’s regulations, said Ferebee.
For example, he said, two Keene homeowners flooded out by Irene “wanted to move on with their lives and decided to raise the elevation of their homes.
“But because they did the work before FEMA got here, they aren’t eligible for help. I’m still fighting for them, but that’s where the Recovery Group comes in.”
When owners come forward to make their continuing problems known, resources can be used to solve them, Bernardi said.
The consortium can use FEMA records to follow up with owners who made reimbursement claims and were helped, but there is no way to know who still has unmet needs, especially in Franklin County.
Once those lapses are identified, the agencies can bring all of their resources together and offer programs and services that will help the most.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in private and public money has been raised for recovery, and more is available. But unless residents come forward to share what types of assistance they need, the nonprofits and governments can’t respond.
“We’ve been doing outreach, looking for people with unmet needs, and we get referrals from towns, governments and other sources aware of our group,” Bernardi said.
Yet there are still people who do
not know assistance and support are available, which is why all of them are being brought together at one site at one time today.
“We believe we still have hundreds of households across the region who have unmet needs,” he said.
“There is still a tremendous need for recovery assistance due to Irene.”
Email Denise A. Raymo: email@example.com
READY TO HELP
In addition to the United Way of the Adirondack Region, the participating agencies in the AuSable Forks event include Project Hope of Essex County, Hesed Hope, the Adirondack Community Trust and Keene Community Trust, the Clinton County Office for the Aging, Essex County Public Health, Catholic Charities, Essex County Mental Health, Essex County Planning Department, Housing Assistance in Essex County, Clinton County's Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Essex County Emergency Services, the Essex County Office for the Aging, the State Emergency Management Organization, Fidelis Healthcare and New York State Electric & Gas.