What could be our last best chance for flood recovery help arrives Monday:
The Green Shirts.
From Monday the 12th through Thursday, March 22, six teams of volunteers from the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee will be at walk-in sites throughout the Schoharie Valley.
They'll also be going door-to-door hoping to find out where the "holes" are, six months after Hurricane Irene.
Anyone who still needs help with flood recovery-even if they've filed a claim with FEMA and even if they've gotten help from their insurance company-should fill out a survey, said Green Shirt Tom Hoogeboom, who with his wife, Marj, will be leading the local effort.
"Our major objective is to locate people not able to recover on their own," Mr, Hoogeboom said.
Completing the Green Shirts' three-page survey will take about 45 minutes; all of the information gathered will be turned over to the Schoharie Area Longterm Recovery-SALT-and no one else.
Mr. Hoogeboom said the surveys will focus on four kinds of need: Personal, financial, household and construction and will include a ballpark estimate of the cost of getting someone back into their home.
The Green Shirts have worked across the country and the biggest challenge they typically face, Mr. Hoogeboom said, is gaining people's trust.
Some people don't trust the government, he said; others are too proud to ask for help.
"But the time to ask for help is now," he said. "You can trust us even if you don't trust the government."
Green Shirt Walk-in sites will be held at the following locations:
Schoharie Reformed Church Heritage House, 258 Main Street.
•Monday, March 12 through Friday, March 16, 10am-4pm.
• Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16, 7-9pm.
• Saturday, March 17, 9am-noon.
• Monday, March 19 through Friday, March 23, 10am-4pm.
• Thursday, March 22, 7-9pm.
St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 326 Main Street.
• Wednesday, March 21 through Thursday, March 22, 3-5pm and 7-9pm.
Blenheim Town Hall, Route 30, North Blenheim
• Monday, March 19 and Tuesday, March 20, 3-5pm and 7-9pm.
American Legion Hall (next to fire hall), Pratttsville
• Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16, 3-5pm and 7-9pm.
• Saturday, March 17, 9am-noon.
Mr. Hoogeboom said the most important thing people can do to help the Green Shirts is spread the word and bring their neighbors with them to the walk-in sites.
Brian Kaiser, a member of the SALT board, said much the same thing.
"We realize some people are still in shock. They don't know what to do or where to turn. But we're fortunate to get the Green Shirts-we had to prove we're ready. At the end of the day, time will run out.
"If someone hasn't met with satisfaction, now's the time to step up. This could be their last chance to get help in any organized fashion."
Josh DeBartolo, a volunteer coordinator with Schoharie Recovery, said of the 300-plus properties they'd visited, he'd estimate just 20 percent are back on their feet.
"For every property that's back on the map, there are probably five or 10 that are just beginning," Mr. DeBartolo said.
"That's one of the big things the Green Shirts are going to be working on: Trying to find out exactly where that unmet need is," he added.
Outside of the villages, Mr. DeBartolo said, people are dealing with things like contaminated water and in the case of farmers, badly damaged property when it's time to start thinking about planting.
In the downtowns, he said, the need is more for skilled labor-something Schhoharie Recovery's been coordinating with the painters', electricians' and carpenters' unions.
"Essentially, everywhere you go, there's still a lot of need."
Constantly changing lists of supplies the skilled laborers need to help in their efforts is available at www.SchoharieRecovery.org.
Information about the Green Shirts and SALT is available at www.SaltRecovery.org.