Businesses in Schoharie County are joining forces with the flood recovery organization SALT to help draw guests and donations for the valley, which is still reeling from flood damage from the storms of 2011.
A dozen firms have signed onto the Pieces of the Recovery Puzzle campaign, which starts Saturday. They will provide a puzzle piece bag to customers willing to donate $5 or more to the cause. A host of additional businesses and sites throughout the valley will carry puzzle pieces people can collect to complete the puzzle.
The puzzle is an aerial photograph of the lush green valley and farmlands surrounding the Schoharie Creek before the creek overflowed and caused millions of dollars in damage in August 2011.
The campaign is seen as a way to infuse more cash into the massive recovery operation that’s already poured volunteer sweat and donated materials to more than 600 homes.
Schoharie Valley Association board member Jessica Loden-Kirby said the initiative should give a boost — and some exposure — to businesses still feeling the effects of the 2011 disaster. Some businesses shut down for good, others changed hands, and some proprietors are opening up new businesses in the flooded valley, she said.
“I think it will be great to highlight how far some of the businesses have come, as well,” said Loden-Kirby, who operates The Apple Barrel Country Store & Cafe on Route 30 in Schoharie.
Many Schoharie County offices remain displaced from their regular location at the County Office Complex in the village of Schoharie, and employees in those offices were major contributors to the local economy, Loden-Kirby said.
“Those are the types of people that definitely, during the week, would patronize local businesses. Without them, we’re still feeling the effects of it,” she said.
The Apple Barrel is among 30 spots where people will be able to find a puzzle piece. And completing the puzzle will yield a prize, according to SALT.
Prizes will be awarded to the first, 50th and 100th people who email a photograph of their completed puzzle to email@example.com.
The list of sites with puzzle pieces isn’t simply businesses looking to market products but also tourist attractions Loden-Kirby said will help guests “really get a chance to embrace what our county is all about.” They include the Landis Arboretum in Esperance, the Old Stone Fort Museum in Schoharie, the New York Power Authority’s Visitor Center in North Blenheim and the Gobbler’s Knob family entertainment center in Cobleskill, among others.
“What we’re hoping is with the promotion running all summer long it’s a great opportunity for families to come out,” Loden-Kirby said.
SALT reported Wednesday continued progress on its ambitious goal of putting the valley back together again. Approximately 150 families have moved back into their homes, while 400 homes have been gutted and 250 projects were assisted with building materials. The homes of about 300 families remain in various states of disrepair.
People can learn more about the Pieces of the Recovery Puzzle campaign at www.saltrecovery.org.