Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc across the east coast this past weekend– devastating homes, farmland, communities and businesses from North Carolina to Vermont. Here in the Catskills, we have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of Sunday’s record-breaking flood. Flooded main streets from Sullivan to Schoharie Counties, thousands of homes without power, and water-logged fields, drowning out crops at what is traditionally the most productive point of the growing season. [For more information on the storm’s effects on NY farmland, check out this New York Times’ piece “After Irene, Upstate New York Farmers Suffer in Flood Plain” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/nyregion/after-irene-upstate-new-york-farmers-suffer-in-flood-plain.html?_r=2&src=tp&smid=fb-share ]
LUCKY DOG FARM, HAMDEN NY (click to watch video)
New York State got the brunt of the storm, and our region was hit particularly hard – of the 191 people who were rescued in NYS, 129 of them were from the Catskills. President Obama has declared NYS a federal disaster area, making emergency funding available to people in the counties of Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Ulster. Applications can be made starting Thursday at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).
One of the best things that has come from this disaster is that our communities have come together to help one another. The Watershed Post – a Catskills-based online news source – has emerged as the leading resource for information, pictures, and stories about the hurricane and subsequent floods. They have set up a live-blog providing real-time updates on storm effects and recovery http://www.watershedpost.com/tags/hurricane-irene
The ‘Catskills Irene Relief Resources’ website has a listing of emergency relief efforts – including referrals for donations and volunteer opportunities – organized by county http://irenerelief.forumotion.com/
NOFA-NY (Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York) is working to mobilize groups of volunteers to assist in area farm cleanup and relief efforts. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Lea Kone (email: Lea@nofany.org / phone: 585-271-1979 ext. 502.
This weekend, the Belleayre Music Festival will be holding it’s final concert of the season, and has turned the event into a benefit for victims of the flood. Béla Fleck and the Flecktones will be performing at Belleayre on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. The board of Directors of the Belleayre Conservatory, which operates the festival, has decided that all net proceeds from this concert will be donated to assist the flood-relief effort. Chairman of the Board Joe Kelly said that making the concert into a benefit for flood victims was a natural decision for the conservatory. “Our mission is to benefit the Catskill Region. At this moment, there is no beter way for us to help fellow community members than by contributing what we can in the wake of the this tragedy.” Click here for tickets or additional information http://www.belleayremusic.org/
Our thoughts are with those across the region who are struggling to recover in the aftermath of the Irene. We ask you to please stay engaged and consider volunteering – be it food, shelter, money, clothes or time – to assist in these recovery efforts.
Catskill Mountainkeeper, PO Box 381, Youngsville, NY 12791