Episcopal Diocese of Albany, NY
Business Office: 68 South Swan Street - Albany, NY 12210 - (518) 465-4737
Christ the King Spiritual Life Center: 575 Burton Road - Greenwich, NY 12834 - (518) 692-9550

Update from Otsego and Delaware Counties

In Otsego our County Commissioner of Social Services, Dan DeNofrio, is using $300,000 of the 2005 Medicaid Cap refund from the NYS to provide immediate cash relief for food, clothing and shelter to affected individuals who appear to have a legitimate need. The reason for this extraordinary initiative is because the $5,000 family grant is not, by any means, immediate. There is a 16 page qualification application that must be completed. If the county can get reimbursed from other disaster resources this will be wonderful but we are not holding our breaths. People have lost their homes, their clothes, their food, their earthly possessions, including, in most cases, their various forms of identification and documentation and fiscal records. The county is also trying to come up with an abbreviated application form so as not to put these people under additional stress and will endeavor to get the other information required by the 16 page application completed later. Red Cross is involved.

Our county Highway Superintendent says the roads and bridges that are not totally gone are in decent shape and traffic should be pretty normal in 2 to 3 weeks. Otsego County is 1,012 square miles, Rhode Island is 1, 019. He has 482 miles of County roads to contend with, greater than the distance from NYC to Buffalo on the Thruway.

I am volunteering in our County's Disaster Call Center in Cooperstown on Monday afternoon from 1p-4p.

My wife Alicia (Lisa) works in the Ombudsman Office of the NYS Office for the Aging and volunteered for Disaster Relief. She was assigned to Walton and was there from 8a to 8p yesterday, will be there today for another 12 hour stint, as well as tomorrow.

Two particularly poignant stories from her stint yesterday.

A small, frail lady in her 80's came in, incredibly exhausted. She and her husband had immigrated from an Eastern Block country in 1993. They ended up in Walton. The floods of 1996 affected them. This one has wiped them out. She has been trying to pick up the stuff that landed in her yard and has no resources left to deal with anything but an apparently indomitable but waning spirit.

A man in his 70's sold his home in Florida two years ago to come up and take care of his sister in Walton. She has some dynamic of a dementia situation going on. The night of the precipitation onslaught she broke her leg and he drove from Walton up to Oneonta for treatment and now she is in a nursing home. He came back to Walton. He showed up yesterday and knows how to get to the house but he had a stroke since coming north and does not remember the address or how to tell anyone where it is. He has no water, he has no gas for cooking. He was extremely apologetic but had the presence of mind to bring every stitch of paper that he thought could help them and he did a pretty good job of that. They put a 'sticker' on his house but he does not know what color it is or what it means. The house may well have been condemned but he isn't sure and doesn't know.

These are but the tip of the iceberg of heartbreaking stories that are coming to light. For the frail elderly and immigrants who have managed to stay in their homes these are almost insurmountable challenges.

One footnote, Lisa called this morning saying that a FEMA worker at the Disaster Center had to go all the way to Richmondville to find a place to stay last night and I managed to find a hotel room for him here in Oneonta, for tonight only. Tomorrow they are fully booked. I invited him to stay with us at Arnold Lake and he said he could get fired for that and it would cause more problems than I could possibly imagine. There is a FEMA motor home down there but the driver is sleeping in that and either there isn't a second bunk or he doesn't or can't share the motor home with this staffer.

A Red Cross team came up from Virginia and is on site. FEMA personnel are on site and doing everything they are allowed to. There is apparently much that they are not allowed to do. Little of the relief is immediate, especially when the Feds are involved. The needs, however, are.

Incredible.

Tom Pritchard
Director
Otsego County Office of Employment & Training

If you would like to volunteer to help with the clean-up and rebuilding,
please contact Patti Gibbons at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center.
pgibbons@ctkcenter.org
(518) 692-9550

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