The Susquehanna River flood of 2006 may be gone from the headlines, but daily reminders are still abundant for many folks in the Tioga County area.
Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga is calling for grassroots involvement to assist in the ongoing recovery process. Many volunteers have responded, as evidenced by the work groups that have spent recent Saturdays helping put homes back together.
“It takes a long time to recover,” said Angela Klopf, director of Catholic Charities’ Tioga Outreach Center in Waverly. “I need community support to help these people. The government and business world isn’t going to come to the rescue — it’s the neighbors.”
Workers toiled at Tioga homes Dec. 16, Jan. 13 and Jan. 20. Klopf also has organized gatherings on Feb. 3 and Feb. 24, and expects to add more dates at least into March. Anybody can get involved, and no experience is necessary. Meeting time is 9 a.m. in the parking lot of St. Patrick’s Church, 300 Main St., Owego. From there volunteers divide into subgroups, working at houses until mid-afternoon. Coffee, doughnuts and lunch are provided.
Turnouts have been excellent thus far, with more than 50 volunteers uniting on Dec. 16 and nearly 40 on Jan. 13. Klopf said help has come from communities as far away as Syracuse.
Among the tasks involved are gutting rooms, hanging sheet rock, spackling, replacing insulation and cleaning mold. Many residents are living in homes with torn floors, missing walls and black mold. Others continue to live in temporary trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that are not insulated to withstand the winter cold.
Klopf said the volunteerism has enabled Catholic Charities to stretch out its relief cash supply by not having to hire contractors. However, she said funds still are disappearing rapidly, and Tioga Outreach Center continues to welcome all the donations and volunteer support it can get.
Late-June rainstorms swelled the Susquehanna River over its banks in many parts of New York and Pennsylvania, and Tioga County was the hardest-hit area within diocesan boundaries. Thousands of acres of farm land and crops were lost, and the overall damage has reached many millions of dollars.
Catholic Charities has been involved from the get-go, arranging donations of household appliances, cleaning supplies, gas cards, food and clothing. The relief effort also has been aided by donations from individuals, area parishes and other diocesan parishes. Christine Sanchirico, executive director of Tioga/Tompkins Catholic Charities, said she is especially appreciative of the $22,287 donation her agency received from a special diocesan collection in late August.
EDITORS’ NOTE: Those interested in volunteering or offering donations for flood relief may contact Tioga Outreach Center at 866/326-1373 or 607/565-7580. Checks should be made out to Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga. They may be mailed to, or dropped off at, the Tioga Outreach Center, 505 Clark St., Waverly, NY 14892.