Schenectady County

Irene, one month later: Stockade given some special help

Saturday’s Adopt-A-Neighbor event offered a targeted service to flood-ravaged residents of the Stock

In the month since the Mohawk River flooded the Stockade District with putrid water and debris, volunteers have also flooded the region to offer a helping hand.

But Saturday’s Adopt-A-Neighbor event offered a more targeted service: City workers in specialized trades went into the neighborhood to clean up or complete minor building rehabilitation.

“The spirit’s really good here,” said Bill Macejka, the city’s senior solid waste supervisor, who came up with and spearheaded the program. “I would say probably 95 percent of the people are well on their way to recovery here.”

City officials, volunteer groups and college students gathered at the tennis courts between Ingersoll Avenue and North Street to await directions on where they would be put to work.

Acting Mayor Gary McCarthy also got in on the action, arriving in jeans, boots and a casual shirt to give a quick pep talk to the crowd on the damp, chilly morning before heading off to one of several dead-end streets to help clean up.

“There’s no way that rain can dampen the enthusiasm of this community and the volunteers that have come out,” McCarthy said. “And I know the neighbors here really appreciate the efforts that have been done in the past and that we’re going to do here today, and it just brings a sense of calm to people as we try and move their lives back to some sense of normalcy.”

After a quick debriefing by Macejka, who has been coordinating Stockade recovery efforts, volunteers jumped right into their assignments, grabbing shovels, rakes, gloves and tarps to haul debris.

Individuals who signed up for the event at the Schenectady Greenmarket started on the Riverside Playground near the tennis courts to make it kid-friendly again. They hauled broken tree branches, muddy logs and piles of debris away from the swings.

Women Build Habitat for Humanity volunteers followed 70-year-old Audrey Taylor to her home on North Ferry Street, which was flooded with 5 feet of water after Irene.

Efficient system

Then came the trade professionals.

City Code Enforcer Rich Alois would inspect homes after tear-out and before construction. So as one family finished removing drywall, Alois would inspect the home before they could re-insulate, he said.

“Rather than delay everything, as they’re getting ready to put their home back together, I’ll take a look at it and make sure everything’s OK,” he said. “And then we’ll go from there.”

Dan McGuire was asked to come out because of his 25 years dedicated to construction.

“I’m somebody to kind of overlook everything that’s going on,” said the Schenectady resident. “They needed specialty volunteers, so I’m here.”

Also on hand were waste collectors, city Fire Department crews and people who just happened to hear about the Saturday event.

All our photos

From the farms of Schoharie County to the streets of the Stockade, our photographers captured the flooding in dozens of photos you can see by clicking HERE

Macejka directed teams of people to the dead-end streets off Front Street — Cucumber Alley, Washington Avenue, Governor’s Lane and North Ferry and North streets — the places most in need of cleanup a month after the flood.

Other trade professionals on scene included an electrician, contractors to put up drywall and a furnace man, said Macejka.

“This is a little more organized,” he said. “I’m trying to get people introduced to some of our local contractors who are down here, who can help them out, give them an estimate, give them a baseline of what something will cost to have fixed.”

Area vendors brought their grills out Saturday to provide volunteers with lunch from Union Pizza, Glenville Subway, Mike’s Hot Dogs, Bad Pig Saloon and Deanna’s Courtside Café.

Macejka said that anyone in the area who still needs help should contact City Hall and he will match them with specialized volunteers. Some people who needed help never reached out, though, he said, so he took it upon himself to knock on their doors.

“I was a little concerned about some of the elderly people here,” he said, “and those are the ones we’re helping today. We actually got them to come forward, and we’ll have volunteers go in and help out.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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