Irene: Teachers plan home insulation effort

As federal lawmakers quibble over disaster funding and budget extensions, teachers in the Schoharie

As federal lawmakers quibble over disaster funding and budget extensions, teachers in the Schoharie Central School District are putting their money and labor where it’s needed.

The teachers’ union plans to spend $10,000 and organize a massive volunteer effort aimed at insulating flooded homes within the district, which includes Schoharie, Gallupville, Sloansville, Central Bridge and Esperance.

The Schoharie Teachers Association is planning the project for the Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 8 and 9, STA president Martin Messner said.

The effort is being dubbed STAY — Schoharie Teachers and You — but reflects the sentiment of residents who don’t want to lose their neighbors and friends to the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

“We really want people to stay in the community,” said Messner, a health teacher at the school.

Messner, one of hundreds of volunteers who have been helping residents in the village of Schoharie gut their flood-soaked homes, said few if any of those houses are in any condition to handle cold weather.

“The majority of the town is down to studs, and there’s a problem with that because we’ve got winter coming in,” Messner said.

Sheetrock and insulation has been torn out of many homes. Without insulation there is a risk of pipes freezing, or the costly alternative of cranking the heat 24 hours a day.

“We thought the best thing we could do is purchase insulation,” Messner said.

He is estimating between 60 and 100 homes could be refitted with fiberglass insulation during the volunteer blitz.

He’s confident a lot can be accomplished because of the number of volunteers he’s seen from all over the place, as well as the 96-member Schoharie Teachers Association’s contacts with other unions.

Messner said teachers in the western part of New York are considering sending people over.

“We do need a big labor force, looking at that many homes,” he said.

The goal is to divide volunteers up in to 25 teams of 10, each with one professional contractor or somebody experienced in the work.

Each team would need a truck capable of carrying rolls of insulation. The Home Depot will likely drop it off in bulk at one central location.

The teams would first register at the Schoharie Central School gym, get a list with an address and head to a house.

Messner is projecting each team should be capable of re-insulating the first floor of two homes in one day, four homes total for the weekend.

Volunteers were already lining up by Thursday, and Messner said the biggest need will be that of professionals or those experienced in insulating.

The challenge up until then: getting Schoharie school district homeowners to accept the assistance.

“Out here in rural areas, people have a hard time asking for help,” he said.

A form for those interested in getting their house insulated is available on the Web site of the Schoharie Central School at

People with experience in insulation willing to help can show up at the school for registration at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, and Sunday, Oct. 9. The school is located at 136 Academy Drive in Schoharie.

Categories: Schenectady County

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