Although Tropical Storm Irene may seem like a long ago event, some homeowners in Windham County still struggle to recover.
Following the storm, nearly 1,500 Windham County households registered with FEMA. The Southeastern VT Long Term Recovery Committee, one of nine committees created by Gov. Shumlin to assist survivors, found 300 households with unmet needs such as interior/exterior home repairs; drainage, well and septic issues; mold mitigation; and driveway repairs.
So far more than 100 homeowners have been helped with these needs and with mobile home replacement, home rebuilds, purchase of materials, moving, and new furniture delivery. The SEVT LTRC received over $300,000 in local contributions, including a $50,000 matching grant from Entergy Inc. Generous funding was available through the Vermont Disaster Recovery Fund and Pomerleau Cornerstone Fund. Several local organizations provided funding for the many costs associated with recovery. Our county also received a share of the Rotary International $412,000 Vermont Recovery Matching Grant for Irene recovery.
With heartfelt thanks, I would like to acknowledge the generosity of all who have donated money, volunteer hours, tools and materials, skills, and compassion to help. Case managers Mary Ann Wolfe, Tyler Maas, Elizabeth McEwen, and Melanie Gaier have visited survivors, listened to their stories, developed recovery plans, sought resources, and remain advocates for their clients until each case is closed. They are the soldiers in the field.
Volunteer coordinators Deb Bunker, Laura Schairbaum, and Tom Nunziata; construction coordinator Bobby Powers and assistant Eric Lunde; PR specialists Glenn Herrin and Deb Holman; and several AmeriCorps interns all have contributed to the recovery effort.
I’d like to thank SEVT LTRC advisory board, professionals with local agencies who meet two to four times monthly, giving tirelessly to the recovery effort: Pat Burke, SEVCA; Sadie Fischesser, AHS; Sue Graff, UWWC; Gretchen Havreluk, formerly with BDCC; Randy Hesse, independent contractor; Dinah Reed, WRC; Jill Spiro, W-WHT. As the link to local faith communities, I am honored to serve as chair.
Many others have stepped forward to assist. To name a few: Gail Nunziata organized a successful fundraiser at Latchis Theater; Randy Ziter offered the Putney Inn for a volunteers celebration; Todd Brown used his own equipment for major excavation; Centre Congregational Church, Hallelujah Farm, and Marlboro College housed volunteer work groups.
Volunteers from SIT/World Learning Youth Programs, Brattleboro Sunrise Rotary Club, Deerfield Valley Rescue, Keene State College Campus Ministry, University of New Hampshire, Richmond Congregational Church UCC (VT), New Goshenhoppen United Church of Christ (PA), AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps), the Weil family from Silver Spring (MD), Western New England University, Marlboro College, and so many local volunteers have worked nearly 3,000 hours at 60 projects.
The faith community has been deeply involved. The National Disaster Ministry (United Church of Christ) donated a tool trailer, an invaluable asset for our construction managers and volunteers. Local congregations contributed tools and offered housing and meals for volunteers.
The Episcopal Relief Fund and Catholic Charities generously granted funds, and congregations of all faiths reached out to neighbors with hands and hearts. On September 28, one year after Irene struck, the Brattleboro Area Interfaith Clergy Association held a candlelight vigil on the Commons, with music by Hallowell Singers, so people of all persuasions could stand together in remembrance, gratitude, solidarity, and hope, knowing there was more work to do.
If you need help contact the Disaster Recovery Service at (800) 464-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to donate money, goods, time or services please contact United Way of Windham County at (802) 257-4011 or email@example.com. We expect to provide assistance through August of this year.
Vermont’s state motto is “Freedom and Unity.” Freedom shows in the strength of character and resilience of her people; unity is demonstrated in strength of our communities as neighbor reaches out to neighbor. Vermont Strong? Yes!
Rev. Sandy Daly