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Irene: Flood recovery to get international aid

Irene: Flood recovery to get international aid

Disaster recovery will get a big boost in the Schoharie Valley next month with the help of an intern

Disaster recovery will get a big boost in the Schoharie Valley next month with the help of an international disaster relief agency expected to identify all the needs left unmet in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee will dispatch “Green Shirt” vol-

unteers throughout storm-affected areas of Greene and Schoharie counties to gather precise details on what’s needed to put the region back together.

The news was announced Thursday by SALT — Schoharie Area Long Term Recovery — along with a new fundraising campaign aimed at recovery in the valley.

The Rev. Sherri Meyer-Veen, pastor of the Schoharie Reformed Church and chairwoman of SALT, said the group has been successfully combining the efforts of religious, government, nonprofit and volunteer agencies since it was formed several months ago.

“What’s been happening in all of this is nothing short of a miracle,” she said.

The Green Shirt campaign is a major boost for recovery efforts, said SALT board member Brian Kaiser, director of the Office of Communiversity Affairs at SUNY Cobleskill.

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee logged more than 280,000 hours of public service in 2010, and members are well-versed in disasters, both nationally and internationally.

“We were very fortunate to get their attention and to get a commitment on their part to be part of our recovery efforts,” Kaiser said.

The group has been gathering people to donate time in the wake of disasters for the past 40 years, he said. They intend to canvass flood-stricken areas of Schoharie and Greene counties and put together a database SALT can use to direct resources.

Green Shirt volunteers will also be setting up walk-in centers where flood victims can register.

“It is our hope that they will be bringing back some of their construction teams later on this summer to help restoration work,” Kaiser said.

Representatives from government and other agencies gathered for the announcement on the lawn of historic Lassell Hall, a 1700s tavern that was one of hundreds of buildings in the Schoharie Valley left under several feet of muddy water during flooding in late August.

Though many areas now look remarkably different than they did in the days following the disaster, work to rebuild the community is only in the early stages, said Ron G. Rausch, a special assistant with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

“No one should confuse cleanup with recovery,” he said.

The upcoming visit from the Green Shirt group is being dovetailed with SALT’s new fundraising effort, the Green Ribbon Campaign. It will embrace the color green, one that represents the goal of those recovering from the flooding, said state Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie.

“We’re hoping that it matches spring and signals a rebirth of this community,” he said.

Green ribbons are being sold at businesses throughout Greene and Schoharie counties and at Bank of Richmondville locations, with money from the effort to go to help residents looking to stabilize their lives and rebuild their homes.

People interested in donating can learn more on the Web at www.saltrecovery.org.

Residents in the Schoharie Valley who were affected by the tropical storms are being urged to contact SALT and register for a disaster assessment to make sure their needs are met.

SALT can be reached at 702-5017.

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