SALT to look at recovery long-term
By Patsy Nicosia
October 19, 2011
Fears that those still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricanes Irene and Lee are falling through the cracks, along with the realization that recovery could take a decade groups as varied as the Chamber of Commerce, Headstart, and Catholic Charities are joining forces as SALT.
Organized Friday as the Schoharie-area long-term recovery team, SALT is bringing together churches, county agencies, fire departments, and agencies including SCCAP and Community Maternity Services to help people through the disaster.
Vern Hall of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Richmondville is one of those involved in putting together SALT, which he sees as an “umbrella” for anyone interested in joining; it will be set up as a non-profit 501C3.
“We’re worried about what will happen down the line when FEMA and SBA leave,” Mr. Hall said.
“We’re also concerned that some of the smaller groups that have formed are going to start feeling burned out…As an umbrella, SALT could tap into things like corporate donations to the benefit of everyone.”
Mr. Hall said SALT could also act as a countywide cleaning house for things like volunteer labor, for example matching someone who needs new windows with an Amish work crew that has volunteered to install them.
At Friday’s organizational meeting, Joann Hale from Church World Services Emergency Response told the group its job will be to help take the burden off existing efforts.
“When you talk about long-term recovery, a group like this will enhance-not replace-what’s already going on,” she said. “You’re going to share the burden…share the labor…”
Though the deadline for registering with FEMA is October 31, other SALT members pointed out the importance of asking everyone who walks through the door, “Did you call FEMA?”
“That’s our place: To get everyone in every community to register,” said Rev. Sherry Meyer-Veen of the Schoharie Reformed Church.
In part because some of the impetus for SALT is coming from the churches, Mr. Hall said he also sees a role for them in counseling, especially children.
“A lot of people are going to be needing spiritual care,” he added.
Mr. Hall said when he first began working on Irene flood relief efforts, he thought recovery might take three years.
After talking to a volunteer who continues to work in New Orleans six years after Katrina, he now thinks recovery could take a decade.
“And we’ll be in place for future disasters,” he said. “The history’s there. The floods will come.”