Community responds to flood

Mamaroneck groups plan long-term recovery.

BY HEATHER MOYER | MAMARONECK, N.Y. | April 30, 2007


The back of Paulette Francis' home is a drying area for belongings damaged in the flood.
Credit: Heather Moyer/DNN

Community agencies and faith groups are charting long-term recovery plans for more than 300 Mamaroneck families affected by flooding caused by a mid-April nor'easter.

"We're working with the community to meet the demands," said Dave Currie, a senior director for the United Way of Westchester and Putnam counties. "It's essential that the help comes from us. People want to see a familiar face."

Outside donors are sending in help, though, including a grant from Episcopal Relief and Development. Other regional churches and agencies are also offering support. The United Way distributed funding as well.

Currie said the focus is creating an order to the recovery, as none of the local agencies have any previous experience with disaster response.

Many agencies are continuing the immediate response in the meantime. The Rev. Deborah Tammearu of St. Thomas Episcopal Church said her church continues to help families clean up their homes and secure any resources available. Tammearu has helped gut a few homes and gotten gift cards from local stores for families in need of groceries and belongings they lost to the flood waters.

"The biggest needs - we're still figuring those out," she said. "But housing is definitely an issue. Many families can't go back to their homes now."

She noted that Westchester County is an expensive place to live, which makes it challenging to move since there is little affordable housing.

Currie added that some local businesses took in water as well and may not be able to reopen. The economic impact from that will definitely be felt, he said.

St. Thomas Church has partnered with local churches and organizations to assist those in need, Tammearu said. The facility served as a kindergarten building for a day after the flooding when one school could not reopen. The local Roman Catholic Church has also used the space to worship. A joint worship service was recently held with the First Baptist Church congregation - whose church was devastated by the floodwaters.

The church houses the local Hispanic resource center, Tammearu said, so they are working together to meet the needs of those families.

"We also worked with Habitat (for Humanity) the other day to gut some homes," she said.

Tammearu said she expected the church facility will be used as a satellite office for the county department of social services to do intakes and assessments.

"It's discombobulated in some ways," she said. "We're adding something literally almost every day."

Currie said the recovery showed the community and its organizations the value of being prepared. He said he hoped that one good thing that will come out of the recovery is that Mamaroneck will be better prepared for the next disaster.

"Everyone needs to focus on what our role is when these disasters happen," he said.

The best way to help is monetary donations, Currie and Tammearu agreed. Gift cards to stores like CVS and local grocery stores are also helpful for families, Tammearu said.

The emotional trauma caused by the disaster - especially with the latest heavy rain that fell Friday, was also of concern to Currie and Tammearu. The rain caused anxiety levels to increase, Currie said.

"One of the big things that will come up is mental health issues," he said. "Parents and children are having a hard time."


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St. Thomas Episcopal Church

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