Military bulldozers were reshaping the Otsquago Creek on Friday, a week after floods tore apart the waterway and inundated Fort Plain.
An army of another kind — more than 1,000 volunteers — has poured into the village since the flood, and clergy leading the civilian recovery effort are calling for more able-bodied workers and some first-aid supplies.
Ryan Von Linden waited patiently for a hose to wash off with in front of the Fort Plain Reformed Church on Friday following several hours of muddy basement work.
It was 90 degrees by early afternoon, and the mud was already caked to his clothing.
Von Linden, who took on four feet of floodwater in his home in Schoharie in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene two years ago, said he’s giving back what was given to him.
“We had a lot of volunteers come help us out,” he said.
The Rev. Nancy Ryan, pastor of Fort Plain Reformed Church, said Friday roughly 1,500 volunteers — many from outside the village — have been trudging through the mud helping residents pull destroyed belongings out to the curb and removing mud.
But the need for able-bodied help continues, Ryan said. “The number one need is volunteers.”
There’s still basement mud and debris to be removed, but the recovery process is moving quickly and Ryan said there’s already some demolition taking place.
Some homeowners are getting ready to begin the next phase: pulling out wallboard and insulation so the frames of buildings can dry out and not rot.
“It’s been such a community effort,” Ryan said, noting that the “community” has expanded far beyond the village, thanks to volunteers from neighboring counties and beyond.
Those include one woman who grew up in Fort Plain, heard about the damage and drove over from Boston where she lives now, Ryan said.
The United Methodist Church on Center Street became a center for donations after the flood and took on the task of collecting supplies such as mops and buckets, dry and canned goods and water. Now the need has shifted to first-aid supplies.
The Rev. Alan Griffith said volunteers being sent out in the field are coming back with cuts and scrapes, and organizers want to ensure they have adequate first-aid supplies to prevent infections.
Antibiotic ointment and bandages are in demand. The waterproof and flexible fabric type are best because plastic bandages just fall off from sweat.
Ryan said the H.C. Smith Benefit Club at 538 Crum Creek Road in St. Johnsville arranged for two school buses to head to the Fort Plain True Value Hardware at noon today. From there, flood victims will get a ride to St. Johnsville, where there’s a slew of donated items — particularly clothing — that victims can make use of.
People interested in donating clothing are asked not to bring them to the Fort Plain churches but rather to the Valley Alliance Church at 85 E. Main St., Palatine Bridge, on the north side of the Mohawk River.
Anybody is welcome to assist in the cleanup, Ryan said. Teams are meeting at the Reformed Church at 165 Canal St. in Fort Plain and working from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with a later start time on Sunday due to morning religious services. Those with questions can call 993-4302.
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