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Irene plus 1 - Help still needed for long-term flood relief

The need is still great for long-term flood relief and, in particular, the most pressing need is for heavy equipment to repair and re-sculpt landscape torn apart by Tropical Storm Irene.

Asah Rowles, director of the Mad River Long Term Flood Relief effort, said that in addition to materials and monetary donations, the need for heavy equipment is the most urgent. She said that many, many people have been able to fix homes but have yet to fix yards and driveways.

The Mad River Long Term Flood Relief group recently took over helping Granville and Hancock in addition to the MadRiverValley towns and still has 167 open FEMA claims and cases. Rowles said that right now she and others are still going door to door to find out who needs what type of help.

“Right now we need five wells dug, three septic systems constructed. The pre-existing ones are either simply gone or they are graveled and silted over. We need three full house rebuilds, two foundations, a handful of furnaces, plus gravel and debris removed,” she said.

Rowles said the next great storm she sees coming is one of a financial nature when people who spent their life savings and borrowed a lot of money for rebuilding face the future of paying back those funds.

The local long-term relief group has 90 people working for them under a $1.62 million grant that Vermont received. Rowles is writing grants and working hard to match people in need with available financial resources as well as available cleanup and reconstruction help.

She said volunteers are still very present among those working to rebuild and clean up, noting that a Rutland woman, Peggy Benoit, has come every Saturday since the flood to help and that Charlie Magill has come with a group known as “Charlie’s Angels” every week.

Asked if she is seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, she said, “I see a light on the MadRiverValley watershed. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

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