Flood aid is aplenty, but more needed - Catholic Courier

Flood aid is aplenty, but more needed

The road to recovery remains rugged for Southern Tier flood victims, but an outpouring of support has helped smooth the way.

An emergency parish collection across the Diocese of Rochester this fall, which had raised $185,000 by mid-December, has created funding availability of up to $300 per victim. Residents should call Catholic Charities Tioga Outreach Center at 607-565-7580 to see how they may qualify for these one-time allotments. Angela Klopf, departing director of Tioga Outreach, said residents must provide copies of their Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notice — regardless of whether they were accepted or denied for FEMA aid — to prove they were affected by the flood.

"There are no income guidelines. If you were flooded, then you can be helped," Klopf said.

She added that Tioga Outreach also can help connect people with other community resources, such as the United Way for sheet rock and insulation that was recently purchased by the Lions Club. In addition, Tioga Outreach is aligned with Tioga Area Recovery Project (TARP), a group of nonprofit organizations, churches, schools and local officials that are devoted to flood recovery. TARP has opened a warehouse to start receiving donated furniture and appliances. Distribution of these items to flood victims was to begin in January, with vouchers being issued to recipients through referrals from Catholic Charities, Tioga County Department of Social Services and Tioga Opportunities.

Klopf further noted that FEMA disaster-relief workers have been in Tioga County since Oct. 21, visiting families and determining eligibility for FEMA assistance. The workers are being contracted by Catholic Charities USA in conjunction with FEMA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

These relief efforts have come in response to historic floods that took place beginning Sept. 8, devastating a large portion of Tioga County and parts of Chemung and Tompkins counties. In the village of Owego, the Susquehanna River crested at a record 40 feet — some 10 feet above flood level. A major disaster was declared by FEMA for Tioga County, neighboring Broome County in the Syracuse Diocese and many surrounding communities.

Relief has come in the form of donated money, food, supplies, clothing and work crews. Klopf emphasized, however, that support is still needed in several areas:

* Cash donations. Those wishing to donate can designate checks for flood relief and send them to Tioga Outreach, 464 Broad St., Waverly, NY 14892.

* Furniture and appliance donations. TARP’s furniture-distribution warehouse is located at the Stakmore facility, 30 Elm St., Owego. Donations of large appliances and gently used couches, bed frames, dressers, book shelves and any other large furniture items can be dropped off at the facility (pickups are not available.) To arrange for a drop-off, or for other details about the collection, contact David Woodburn at Tioga Opportunities at 607-687-4222, ext. 302, ordwoodburn@tiogaopp.org.

* Volunteering. Klopf noted that volunteers — particularly skilled workers — are needed by Tioga Opportunities to help with rebuilding on weekends and also during the week. "We had college groups and others come in and help with mucking and tear-out, but now we’re to the rebuilding stage and we need more skilled volunteers," she explained, adding that "this need will be ongoing for awhile" due to many families’ rebuilding efforts being hampered by winter weather and waiting on insurance checks. In other cases, she said, "There are countless families working all day and then working to rebuild every evening and weekend. Then you have those that aren’t able to rebuild on their own and are living in substandard conditions, waiting for help."

Klopf, who had served as Tioga Outreach’s director since 2006, was set to leave Dec. 31 to become chief executive officer of The Community Foundation for the Twin Tiers. A successor has not yet been named.

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