In the Wake of Irene: How to Help

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.

About Diner Dialogues

Didi Barrett was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election in March 2012 and re-elected to a full term in November 2012. Her district, the 106th AD, covers some of the most beautiful parts of Columbia and Dutchess Counties. She has deep roots in the Hudson Valley and came to elected office after a career as a community activist, writer and longtime leader of not-for-profit organizations. Didi is passionate about the agricultural, natural, cultural and historic resources of the Hudson Valley and their critical importance as economic engines and job generators. She is also a great fan of the iconic diners that dot the region. As a member of the Assembly she serves on the Committees on Aging; Agriculture; Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry; Mental Health; Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development and Veterans Affairs.
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3 Responses to In the Wake of Irene: How to Help

  1. Hi Didi. This is Ivan.
    For the record, the database was originally started by Julia and Lissa over at Watershed Post, but it had too many views for proper editing so I helped by moving it to a form-based spreadsheed. We’re sharing (I’m also on the feed) and I’m just helping with tech and tweeting.
    I then embedded the maps from Central Hudson and the crowdsourced one by Don Meltz (I saw his map on the feed). My Storify post with stories and videos were produced mainly from posts in my Twitter stream and the CoveritLive feed.
    I figured we could provided exposure to all efforts, as we have a healthy community over at the Freeman.
    Thanks for the post.

  2. Thanks for sharing these resources. We’ve also put together a farm-focused list at the Pure Catskills blog:

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