Department of State Announces Emergency Disaster Relief to State’s
Most Vulnerable Communities Suffering in the Wake of Irene
Community Service Block Grants are providing residents with basic needs and essential support
Albany - Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales today announced that the New York Department of State (DOS) is providing more than $1 million in emergency aid to help local community action agencies provide direct services to those impoverished communities devastated by Hurricane Irene. The assistance is being made available as part of Governor Cuomo’s continuing statewide efforts to mobilize resources to areas severely impacted by the storms. The funds enable some of the state’s hardest hit communities to provide eligible residents with basic needs and essential support in the wake of the devastating storm. Food, safe drinking water, and temporary housing and rental assistance are among the key essentials being provided. The funds will also assist with items such as generators, emergency transportation and medical assistance.
“We have all been moved by the tragic consequences of Hurricane Irene,” said Secretary Perales. “Many of our most impoverished neighborhoods and communities are in desperate need of basic necessities like clothing, food and clean drinking water. These funds are helping to make sure that those who have lost everything aren’t forgotten.”
Administered by the Department of State, Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds are available to communities within all counties of New York State that have been severely impacted by the storm. Clinton, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster and Westchester Counties have already been approved for funding and DOS expects more counties to be approved in the days and weeks ahead. The funds, which are provided to local community action agencies in the affected communities, provide critical resources and emergency aid to families most in need.
“Community action agencies are uniquely positioned to reach out to many of our poorest, most vulnerable individuals and families,” said Secretary of State Cesar Perales. “These agencies help ease some of their suffering, providing essential support and assistance at this challenging time.”
A few examples of how these funds are helping families get back on their feet include:
Schoharie County - One of the hardest hit regions of New York State, Schoharie County, has been ravaged by the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene. The Schoharie Community Action Program Inc. (SCCAP), has been awarded CSBG funds by the Department of State to provide basic services including housing, transportation, and food assistance to underserved communities. Many of the people to whom SCAAP is providing services have lost their homes to flooding and need emergency housing assistance. SCAAP is helping identify safe, affordable temporary housing and providing short-term financial assistance for upfront costs for lodging. They are also supplying consumers with food and gas cards to enable them to get to and from work and the grocery store.
“It’s tough. The devastation is so widespread. At the same time we have more than 300 people out of their homes, major roads are closed, making our community feel like a warzone,” said Phil Alotta, Executive Director of SCAAP. “We are working 7 days a week providing people with essential supplies. Our focus has been temporary housing, clean water and food, and transportation. While there is a sense of desperation on people’s faces as they dig mud out of their home or business, the spirit of Schoharie County is very strong. We will rebuild.”
Essex County - As crews work diligently to clean up roadways and help individuals sort through damaged homes, the Adirondack Community Action Programs, Inc (ACAP) is using CSBG funds awarded by the Department of State to support more than 150 families affected by Hurricane Irene. ACAP is helping to relocate our most vulnerable families who have lost their homes. ACAP is also providing cribs, bedding, diapers and other essentials for infants and babies. Some towns have made food shelters available and ACAP is helping to fill-in the gaps and providing food for those in need, as well as assistance to those having lost furniture, washers, dryers, and beds.
“More than 150 families are out of their homes and major infrastructure is compromised due to the flooding. Adirondack Community Action has served as a staging area for the community and a communication vessel between municipalities, not-for-profits and disaster relief efforts. Everyone is pitching in,” said Alan Jones, Executive Director of ACAP.
“The support provided by the Department of State will allow us to provide fuel to homes. With fuel tanks having been ripped from homes, there is a need for fuel once they are able to secure a new tank. Baby needs, things like diapers and cribs are very important in times like these and we will make sure that families get these types of supplies. The flooding destroyed most people’s appliances, so we will help provide them with new appliances and food to stock their fridge. We will also be providing seniors with meals on wheels. The community will get through this.”
Rensselaer County - Rensselaer has experienced major flooding, mudslides, and damage to homes and businesses. Commission on Economic Opportunity for the Greater Capital Region (CEO) has made great use of the CSBG funding provided by the Department of State. Along with providing those in need with housing, clean drinking water, prepackaged meals, and beds, the organization has also been providing advocacy, ongoing case management and assistance in linking members of the community to other resources.
“Our people have experienced prolonged flooding from Hurricane Irene and the recent storm. The rain just keeps on coming. Our staff is blanketing our neighborhoods to assess and meet our community’s needs. We are using CSBG funds to provide warm clothing to people whose winter clothes were destroyed in the flooding, as well as provide food and transportation to the FEMA office in the county. People are exhausted. Our biggest goal is to reassure people that they are not alone in this. We are here to help,” said Karen Gordon, CEO Executive Director.
Ulster County - Property damage from falling trees and flooding have displaced families throughout Ulster County, including the hard-hit areas of Ellenville, Marlboro, and Phoenicia. Warm meals, clean drinking water, temporary housing and rental assistance for generators are being funding by CSBG grants through the Ulster County Community Action Committee. In addition, CSBG funding provided by the Department of State is also being used to provide home cleaning supplies, flashlights and batteries to Hurricane Irene victims in Ulster. Vouchers to families can be used at local businesses for clothing, bedding, shoes and school supplies.
“Hurricane Irene devastated the lives of thousands of families in Ulster County,” said Ulster County Community Action Committee Executive Director Larry Kithcart. “Working together, we are helping to ensure the needs of our displaced and most vulnerable families are met. The resources the Department of State is providing is essential to the people of this county.”
Orange County - CSBG funds have been instrumental in ensuring that Orange County residents are provided emergency medical services, school supplies, emergency transportation, shelter and other direct services. Two community action agencies, Newburgh Community Action Committee, Inc. (NCAC) and Regional Economic Community Action Program, Inc (RECAP), have helped make sure that individuals and families do not slip through the cracks during these times of need.
“Families in Newburgh and Orange County are reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene,” said Jade Greene, Interim Director of the Executive Director of Newburgh Community Action Coalition. “The additional support from the Department of State targeted to our most impoverished residents will allow our organization to assist displaced families with food and shelter, as well as assist them with emergency transportation in order to keep to their jobs.”
Montgomery/Fulton Counties - The Fulmont Community Action Agency is using CSBG funds awarded by the Department of State to help provide families with clean clothes, clean water, bagged lunches, emergency transportation to and from work, the grocery store or the doctor. These necessities help residents as they try to piece their lives back together. While flooding has temporarily forced the closure of its Fonda office, the organization’s Amsterdam and Gloversville offices are open to help anyone who needs clean water, food, clothing or any other essential item. Residents in need are urged to reach out to them for assistance.
“We stand prepared and ready to assist income eligible individuals with unmet basic needs, said Denis Wilson, Executive Director of the Fulmont Community Action Agency. “We have been reaching out to families in the area to make sure that immediate assistance in the form of food and shelter are provided to our community.”
All community action agencies, especially those operating within the recent federally declared disaster areas and areas qualifying for direct federal public assistance are encouraged to reach out to displaced families. In addition, all agencies and program directors are urged to coordinate with other federal, state, and local relief efforts.
Residents without other resources and in need of basic assistance including food, clean drinking water, clothing, and emergency transportation should contact their regional community action agency. A complete list of these organizations can be found on the DOS website: http://www.dos.ny.gov/dcs/caatext.htm.