The devastating wake left by Irene has the mid-Hudson Valley and neighboring counties reeling from the unexpected destruction. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of folks are homeless; whole towns and villages are unrecognizable; and basic infrastructure like bridges, roads and dams suffered crippling damage, some even totally wiped out.
Neither upstate New York, nor Vermont for that matter, were supposed to be targets of Irene. No amount of planning could have prepared these communities for what happened. After the loss of lives, livestock and homes, some of the most heartbreaking images have been the destroyed covered bridges, century-old country stores and multi-generational family businesses. Those structures are some of the very images these regions are best known for; even with rebuilding those historic icons can really never be replaced. They have passed into the realm of memories.
I find it ironic that the most effective communications through the storm and even after in these rural communities, so 19th century in their appearance, turned out to be the very 21st century social media, particularly Twitter, which became a lifeline for many stranded by floodwaters. The women of Watershed Post, an online news source for the Catskills which blogged and tweeted live all day Sunday, describe Twitter as ” the Internet’s version of ham radio.” They turn out to be among the heroes of this catastrophe linking anxious friends and neighbors, along with FEMA and the local Red Cross — like old time telephone operators. Days later Watershed Post relentlessly continues this work and they offer these guidelines to officials and others trying to get real time information out to folks in the area.
As the region assesses the damage and figures out how to move forward, several other regional websites have become very helpful resources for those in need of relief as well as those who wish to help. Here are links to some sites that I have come across. Please feel free to add others:
The Valley Table has updated lists of flood benefits, restaurants participating in Dine Out Irene on September 25th, and other farm disaster updates.
Watershed Post continues to update information about road closing, general storm resources and a detailed list of ways to support the Catskill area hard hit farmers
Hudson Valley Food Network has started a forum for requests of help from farmers, for those in need of food, and for those who wish to help local farmers. They’ve also added a list of farmers, through Crop Mob NYC, that you can contact directly.
American Red Cross — Northeastern New York needs immediate volunteers for storm relief and has training sessions in Poughkeepsie on Thursday, September 1 and Tuesday, September 6.
Ivan Lajara of The Daily Freeman is compiling a database of Catskill flooding donation and relief centers.
Adirondack Almanac has information about conditions — some quite dangerous — in the back country over the Labor Day weekend.
The Dyson Foundation is offering emergency funding to Hudson Valley not for profit organizations with Irene-related damages and losses.
Preservation League of NY State has compiled a resource list for those with historic structures, for before and after a disaster like Irene.
Pure Catskill has resources to help farmers in the Catskills, including drop off efforts in NYC and Brooklyn.