The Green Shirts hit the ground running in Schoharie Monday.
As four teams from the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee divvied up the village streets, leaders Tom and Marge Hoogeboom interviewed walk-ins behind a closed door at the Schoharie Reformed Church Heritage House.
The Green Shirts will be going door-to-door throughout the Schoharie Valley through March 23, looking for people with "unmet needs" seven months post-Hurricane Irene.
They'll also be at walk-in sites like the one at the Heritage House.
And if people can't get to them, Mr. Hoogeboom said the Green Shirts will go there; call 702-5017 for an appointment either at a site or somewhere else.
In between walk-ins Monday, the Hoogebooms organized what they're calling their "war room" with detailed maps of the Valley and stacks of surveys and other paperwork, including the bright green "been here" notices the volunteers will be leaving on the doors of the homes the visit.
Those notices list the walk-in sites and hours.
The Hoogebooms urges anyone who still needs help recovering from Irene to fill out a survey, a process that takes about 45 minutes.
The information gathered will belong to SALT-Schoharie Area Longterm Recovery-and will be used to prioritize help.
Mr. Hoogeboom said the forms start out by asking for facts, which are often easier for people to deal with.
"Then we say, 'Tell us your story.' That's like opening up a flood gate...Even after all this time, people are still in shock. There are always some incredible stories."
Mr. Hoogeboom said one of the questions they ask is "What's the most important thing you lost?" and the answer is seldom a thing.
"People often say they lost their sense of self or they've lost their sense of community," Ms. Hoogeboom said.
Once, when the Hoogebooms were in Florida, they interviewed a man who'd lost his identity-literally; he had his birth certificate, social security card and other personal information sealed inside a plastic garbage can, which he left behind when he fled from a hurricane.
The day before he returned, garbage men took the can, never realizing what it held.
The Green Shirts' survey also asks about financial resources and whether someone's lost their job because of the flood, Mr. Hoogeboom said, and about specific damage to homes-information they'll use to put together a ballpark figure for repairs.
They also ask if the person they're interviewing has any skills they can put to use helping with rebuilding efforts.
That, Mr. Hoogeboom said, is a way to help people begin to focus outside their own situation as well as a way to compile a list of potential workers.
It's all geared toward helping people move forward," added Ms. Hoogeboom.
A list of Green Shirt walk-in sites follows.
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.