The year 2014 brings with it a major vacuum in the Schoharie Valley’s post-flood recovery effort, which is being turned over to locals following about two years of professional disaster assistance.
Two Christian groups that have been knee-deep in the Schoharie Valley’s rebuilding departed by the end of 2013, according to Schoharie Area Long Term, or SALT, the recovery organization coordinating rebuilding.
The “Green Shirts” volunteers of the Christian Reformed Church’s World Renew Disaster Response Services completed their work in November. They coordinated about 53,000 hours of labor over the past two years, valued at about $1 million.
The Green Shirts — so named for the matching shirts they all wear — brought roughly 500 volunteers from all over the United States and Canada during their campaign.
At the end of December, Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers moved on as well. Their work amounts to a total of 25,064 working hours to put the homes of 28 families back together.
“There really is sort of a gap here, particularly skilled volunteers,” said SALT volunteer director Jerrine Corallo.
Members of both relief groups most often worked in the construction industry, and they were able to direct the work of less-skilled volunteers.
But both organizations have a nationwide reach that draws church volunteers from hundreds of miles away. So their departure leaves a void not only in skill but also in the ability to draw hundreds of people to the valley.
The ability to draw strangers willing to help fades as time goes on, she said.
“It’s a vacuum of skilled volunteer labor. As we continue to get further away from the disaster, really the volunteer needs tend to be more skilled,” Corallo said.
Volunteer site supervisors are one of the greatest needs, she said.
“We have been lucky over the past years to have some people who have fulfilled that role for us,” she said.
With the help of Capital Region residents and other volunteers, SALT oversaw the rebuilding of more than half of the 1,958 properties inundated by tropical storms Irene and Lee in 2011.
For the spring of 2014, SALT is planning to schedule rebuilding for more than 100 families.
Groups and individuals willing to help are sought. People can contact SALT online at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 702-5017.